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Engaging Students in the Sustainability EffortFinance and Business, Office of Physical Plant

The Challenge: Managing Trash and Recyclables at Large Events

More than 100,000 fans at a home football game can produce a lot of trash. From 1995 to 2005, local Scouting and other United Way groups worked in the area around the stadium encouraging tailgaters to place their trash and recyclables in appropriate containers. Volunteer interest declined in the last few years of this approach. Unfortunately, without strong volunteer assistance, following a night game in 2005, it took 10 days, and 70 people being paid overtime, to clean up the trash. Additionally, the opportunity to recycle a lot of the trash was lost.

The Solution: Let Students Take the Lead

trash bag boardIn fall 2006 students turned the situation around. Interested in doing a better job with recycling at football games, several students met with Office of Physical Plant staff to discuss alternatives. The result was a pilot program in which students took recycling bags to the fans, rather than expecting fans to take their items to the recycling bins. student groupIn fall 2007 the program occurred at each of the home football games. As a result, 111 tons of recyclables were collected and kept out of landfills, raising more than $8,000 for Centre County United Way. In spring 2008 STATERs, Students Taking Action to Encourage Recycling, was recognized as an official student organization. Twenty to thirty students volunteer at each football game. Students now wear fluorescent green shirts and deliver bags with the Nittany Lion head within the universal recycling symbol. In fall 2008 Penn State instituted a ‘no glass’ rule for tailgating in grass areas to prevent injuries to students from broken glass left in the fields after the games. Despite this obvious reduction in the weight of materials to be collected for recycling, 89 tons of recyclables were collected during the 2008 football season. In the first three of seven home games in fall 2010, 15 tons of recyclables were collected. STATERs has also initiated recycling programs in residence halls and expanded their work beyond the fall football games.

recycling bins

For more information about STATERs, contact Al Matyasovsky, Supervisor, Central Support Services, Office of Physical Plant,

October 2010

Al Matyasovsky
Al Matyasovky,
Central Support Services,
Office of Physical Plant
"The success of Penn State's recycling program..."more

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