Duke Targets ‘Zero Waste’ at Football Games

New recycling and composting program starts during Aug. 30 home opener

Part of the Sustainable Duke Series
Duke Athletics and Sustainable Duke want to make home football games
Duke Athletics and Sustainable Duke want to make home football games "zero waste" this season.

This football season, Blue Devil fans in Wallace Wade Stadium will be able to do more than just cheer on Duke.

They’ll help the campus community tackle its carbon footprint, too.

Beginning this season, Duke will work toward making football game days a “zero waste” event by encouraging fans to recycle and compost waste. Special zero waste stations will be set up throughout the Wallace Wade Stadium concourse and Blue Devil Alley, while bag stations will be made available in parking lots for fans to pick up bags for trash, recyclables and materials for composting.

“As Duke expands its waste reduction efforts with events such as the waste-free first-year picnic and piloting composting in several buildings on campus, including waste-free football was a logical next step,” said Tavey Capps, Duke’s director of sustainability. “It aligns with broad goals on campus and offers an opportunity for Athletics to pursue excellence on-and-off the field.”

The efforts will take place for all seven of Duke’s home games, starting with the Aug. 30 home opener against Elon University. The goal is to divert 90 percent of compost and recyclable material from trash, which would allow Duke to become the first ACC school to reach the “zero waste” mark, according to national guidelines.

“As part of building this program, I encourage our players to leave a place better than you found it in every way,” said football head coach David Cutcliffe. "Part of that is taking pride in your facility. Fans can help us make Wallace Wade Stadium the first zero waste stadium in the ACC.”

The effort to move toward a sustainably-focused football game day came after a study of waste following last year’s home game against Navy. Trash collected from that game showed that 87 percent of waste generated was actually recyclable or compostable, which is inline with waste audits performed on other buildings across campus in the past two years.

Work toward a zero waste game day will begin about three hours before kickoff, as crews will share information about the zero waste effort as fans enter parking areas. Bag stations will be setup by portable toilets for fans to pickup bags for their waste: black for trash, blue for recycling and green for compost, which includes paper napkins and food scraps. Signage on the bag station will help clarify which bag is for what kind of waste.

After fans collect their waste and leave for the game, staff and contractors will return to the areas to collect the bags.

Help Share Information About Zero Waste Gameday

Sustainable Duke is seeking volunteers to help Blue Devil fans sort their waste during gameday. Volunteers are needed for all seven Duke home games this season.

At least 15 volunteers are needed who will receive a T-shirt and access to the game for which they’re volunteering.

More information and signup opportunities are available at this website.

Once fans enter Wallace Wade Stadium concourse, they’ll see 110 new receptacles that  allow for the sorting of trash, compost and recyclables. The three-feet tall, circular bins will be color-coordinated for each kind of waste that also match the bags used in tailgate areas for trash (gray), compost (green) and recycling (blue).

Large flags will be stationed by each receptacle to highlight correct placement of waste as a recyclable, compost and trash. Volunteers by the bins will also be available to answer questions.

“As a leader in academics, athletics and sustainability, Duke has a responsibility to take a part in diverting as much as we can from the landfill,” said Arwen Buchholz, Duke's recycling and waste reduction coordinator. “With the help of the Duke community and campus visitors, our zero waste football games will be another big step toward accomplishing this.”