Football Aims to Expand ‘Zero Waste’ Efforts

Duke was first in ACC to divert over 90 percent of recyclables and compost from trash

From left, Duke football teammates Zavier Carmichael, Twazanga Mugala, Shaun Wilson and Trevon McSwain form an assembly line-like process to roll up bags for fans for recycling, compost and trash at Duke home games. Photo by Bryan Roth.
From left, Duke football teammates Zavier Carmichael, Twazanga Mugala, Shaun Wilson and Trevon McSwain form an assembly line-like process to roll up bags for fans for recycling, compost and trash at Duke home games. Photo by Bryan Roth.

As dozens of Duke football players stood around tables in the Yoh Football Center, the hulking   student-athletes each took turns rolling bags with educational fliers about recycling and composting and wrapping a rubber band around each roll.

In all, players prepared 10,000 rolls of bags for tailgating fans to help explain how to dispose of recyclables, compost and trash. The event, held in May, was part of the third year of Duke’s “zero waste” game-day initiative, which aims to divert at least 90 percent of recyclables and compost from trash at each home football game.

This season, volunteers will hand out the bags on home game days for compost, recyclables and trash. In addition, special zero waste stations will be available throughout Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium’s concourse and the Blue Devil Alley tailgate area between Card Gymnasium and Cameron Indoor Stadium. The effort is led by a partnership between Duke Sanitation & Recycling, Sustainable Duke and Duke Athletics.

Zavier Carmichael, a junior linebacker on the team, said it was important to be
a part of the flier effort since he and other players want to be role models for others.

“It’s a habit now for us to pick up trash we see on the ground when we’re walking around campus,” Carmichael said. “It’s an important lesson to live by so it’s not just Duke football players doing it, but others see us and do it too, so we can help
change campus.”

Duke achieved its first-ever “zero waste” game day Nov. 14, 2015, against University of Pittsburgh, diverting 94 percent of recyclable and compostable materials from trash.

Through the first two years of Duke football’s zero waste initiative, fans have composted more than 14,000 pounds and recycled more than 62,000 pounds during home events.

“Our staff and volunteers work really hard to get buy-in from fans to help us achieve zero waste on game days,” said Arwen Buchholz, Duke’s recycling and waste reduction coordinator. “When we’re able to have the whole campus community show a sense of ownership for this program, it builds momentum for this season.”