<title>Recycle on the Go Success Story: Recycling at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium</title>
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Recycle on the Go Success Story
Recycling at Penn State's Beaver Stadium
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diverted nearly 30 tons of recyclables per year from local landfills. A new initiative to promote recycling in the stadium's
tailgating area has helped Penn State more than triple its old recycling record, collecting 112 tons in 2008. Proceeds
from the sale of the recycled materials are donated to the local United Way—more than $54,000 to date.
Facts at a Glance
Beaver Stadium has a seating
capacity of 107,282.
The stadium and parking lots
occupy 110 acres.
290 wheeled recycling carts are
spread throughout the parking
lots to collect recyclables, while
42 dumpsters are available to
30 A-frames were added to
dispense bags where dumpsters
were not available.
Volunteers hand out nearly
2,000 blue recycling bags per
game. Another 2,800 recycling
bags and an equal number of
trash bags are available at the
90 percent of recyclables are
captured in the blue bags.
The tailgating "blue bag"
initiative cost $9,000 to
implement but doubled the
stadium's recycling capture.
In 2008 the stadium collected
112 tons of recyclables.
Sale of recyclables raised more
than $54,000 for the United Way.
This aerial photo shows
the bowl area of Penn
State's Beaver Stadium
on game day, with fans
filling the stands.
Located in University Park, Beaver Stadium is home to the Nittany Lions football team.
The stadium and its surrounding parking lots occupy 110 acres. As the second largest
university stadium in the country, it generally hosts 110,000 to 150,000 fans at its seven
football games per year. Although the seating capacity is 107,282, big games can draw
twice that number, filling the stadium and surrounding parking lots with tailgating Penn
State football fans and guests who catch the game using portable radios and televisions.
Each game generates an estimated 50 tons of waste. Early afternoon games can yield less,
but matchups with major rivals draw large crowds and can result in upwards of 100 tons
of waste in a single day. With tipping fees for waste at $70 per ton and recycling costing
just $5 unbagged, to $15 bagged per ton, there is a clear financial incentive to reduce
the volume of waste sent to the local landfill. By offering fans several convenient options
for handling their recyclable materials, the stadium reduced the number of labor hours
needed for cleanup, thereby reducing overtime pay. As a result, the stadium's recycling
program has cut the cost of cleanup by an average of 40 percent per game.
Al Matyasovsky, supervisor of central support services at Penn State, describes the
stadium's recycling program as both "evolutionary and revolutionary." Over the years,
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY Recycle on the Co
Pennsylvania's Municipal Waste
Planning, Recycling, and Waste
Reduction Act (Act 101) requires
communities of 10,000 people or more
to recycle at least three commodities.
"We go beyond that," says Al
Matyasovsky, supervisor of central
support services at Penn State. "We use
Act 101 as a guidepost, but at Beaver
Stadium we have 110,000 or more fans.
We want to demonstrate appropriate
the program has expanded to include plastic bottles (#l-#7), aluminum
cans, glass, cardboard, program booklets, and food waste. Plus, through
an innovative partnership between the university, local government,
and an alumnus-owned business, proceeds from the sale of the collected
recyclable materials are donated to the United Way to support local
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Nuts and Bolts
Matyasovsky's office oversees the day-to-day operation of the stadium's
recycling program, but a number of other organizations helped design
and implement it, including Penn State's Office of Physical Plant and
Department of Athletics, the Centre County Solid Waste Authority,
Joe Krentzman & Son, Inc., and Centre County United Way.
Recycling at Beaver Stadium features two components: collections inside
the stadium and collections in the parking lots and tailgating areas. Inside
the stadium, the major recyclables are beverage containers, cardboard, and program booklets. The majority
of the tonnage is derived from the tailgating areas, where fans are encouraged to separate plastic bottles,
aluminum cans, and glass from their waste.
Tailgating Recycling. Fans can recycle in tailgating areas in various ways.
1. By placing 290 blue, 96-gallon, wheeled recycling bins throughout the stadium grounds, Penn State has
made it more convenient for fans to recycle their beverage containers. With only 42 eight-yard dumpsters
for trash, clusters of bins are constant reminders to recycle.
2. In 2007, stadium officials launched a new effort that involved the student club STATERs (Students
Taking Action To Encourage Recycling) distributing translucent blue plastic bags to tailgating fans to
collect their recyclables. About 15 student volunteers mingle with fans before games to personally
hand out about 2,000 translucent blue recycling bags and encourage visitors to support the
stadium's recycling efforts.
These blue toters, labeled "Cans Only" and
"Plastic Bottles #l-#7," are positioned near
the entrance to the stadium.
Recycle on the Co U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
3. Fans can also get the blue bags from specially
designed dispensers (similar to those used to
distribute plastic bags in a supermarket's produce
section) affixed to brown dumpsters, the top two
feet of which are painted green to let fans know
they can pick up recycling bags there. Stadium
staff members closely monitor the number
of bags at the dumpsters and replenish them
when the supply is low.
4. Thirty A-frames were added in 2008 to dispense
clear bags in areas where there were no dumpsters.
Each fall stadium staff members place the recycling
carts and dumpsters in their designated spots in the
parking lots, where they will remain until the end of
the football season in November. One staff member sets out the carts while two
or three put the dumpsters in place. Stadium staff developed a map indicating
where dumpsters would be placed, establishing consistency in location so fans
know where to expect them from year to year.
On Sundays after games, the waste management staffers collect the filled blue
bags from the parking lots and bring them to a university-owned recycling center
and staging area, about half a mile from the stadium, to sort the materials. Bag
collection might take a six-person crew with three trucks anywhere from four to
six hours. The number of bags collected can range from 1,500 to 4,500 per game
depending in part on the matchup, which drives fan attendance.
Over the three or four days following a game, one staff member is
responsible for collecting the recyclables from the blue carts, using a truck
with a lift arm. Approximately 1 to 1.5 tons of recyclables per game are
pulled from the blue carts. Recyclables in the carts are already sorted so
they need not go to the university recycling center. A recycling marketer
picks up the recyclables and sells them to processors.
The proceeds are donated to the United Way.
For an implementation cost of about $9,000, the "blue bag"
initiative effectively doubled the stadium's recycling capture,
Matyasovsky says, over simply scattering the wheeled recycling
carts throughout the tailgating area.
Recycling Inside the Stadium. In 2008, Penn State began
collecting beverage containers inside the stadium. It added 127
recycling bins in the concourse areas and plans to purchase
more. The 96-gallon stainless steel bins have a 4- by 3-foot panel
for print advertising, which will help cover the upfront purchase
and ongoing maintenance costs for the recycling bins. These
bins used inside Beaver Stadium will be shifted to other facilities,
such as Medlar Field during baseball season, to further expand
recycling opportunities on campus.
Recycle on the Co U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Also collected inside the stadium are leftover program
booklets and cardboard packaging from concessionaires.
The university's waste management team collects these
materials after the games at the stadium's north ramp
and delivers them to the recycling facility for processing.
Education and Outreach
"Come to the Game, Honor the Name" is the stadium's
recycling mantra. Fans are reminded through public service
announcements on the video board and in person by the
student volunteers that participating in the stadium's
recycling program embodies a "multiplicity of Penn State
values," Matyasovsky says. 'At a Penn State game, you should enjoy yourself, but at the end
of tailgating time, participating in the recycling program is the right thing to do to honor the
school, keep our grounds clean, help keep costs down, protect the environment, and support
the United Way."
Challenges and Solutions
Challenge: Not enough recyclables were being collected simply through use of recycling
carts placed in the tailgating area. Even though scout troops encouraged
fans to separate their trash from recyclables, with 110 acres to cover, the
effort was not that effective, and trash still ended up on the ground.
Solution: Student volunteers now circulate through the parking
lots handing out translucent blue bags so fans can
easily separate their recyclables from trash. The bags
themselves are recyclable once the materials inside have
been removed and sorted. (The stadium is able to send
the plastic bags along with other plastic film collected
on campus to be recycled into wood/plastic composite
lumber.) The blue bag effort nearly doubled the volume
of materials captured in the tailgating area.
Challenge: The Centre County Solid Waste Authority requires that
Penn State's recyclables have a contamination rate of
3 percent or less.
Solution: Penn State policy—university-wide—requires
participation of faculty, staff, and students in its recycling program to ensure
compliance with the county's mandated 3 percent or less contamination
rate. At Beaver Stadium, the first line of defense is promoting source
separation through use of blue bags and recycling carts. Once the recyclables
are collected from the tailgating area, university waste management staff
empties the bags and sorts the materials at the campus recycling center. The
county does an additional level of sorting. Penn State has not faltered in
meeting the 3 percent goal during the 13 years of the recycling program.
Recycle on the Co U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
In the Future
Penn State's goals are to increase student involvement in promoting the recycling
program and to improve communication with fans to educate them about how many
bags of recyclables have been collected and how much money they raised for the
United Way. A long-term goal is to raise the stadium's recycling rate from
48.6 percent to 67 percent.
The stadium has purchased bins to compost food waste from food preparation
areas inside the kitchen and will begin a pilot program during the next season.
The university has a food composting program that will accept the food collected
at the stadium.
The university continuously looks for ways to reduce waste on
campus. Another successful initiative, and one of the few other
events that take place in Beaver Stadium, is Trash to Treasure, a
1-day yard sale held every spring. The event invites students to
drop off unwanted clothing, furniture, school supplies, and other
items for resale. In its first six years, Trash to Treasure diverted
nearly 422 tons of reusable materials from the landfill and raised
$258,000, which was donated to the United Way.
Tips for Stadiums
• Start with a pilot program to learn what works for the fans and
• Be where the customers are and make recycling easy.
• Enlist students and other volunteers to hand out bags and
promote the program.
• Advertise the program and report volumes collected on the
video board, in advertisements in program booklets, and in
announcements over the public address system.
• Thank the fans and stakeholders regularly.
') Recycled/Recyclable - Printed with Vegetable Oil Based Inks on 100% Postconsumer,
Process Chlorine Free Recycled Paper
EPA is partnering with
other Federal agencies,
states, municipalities, and
organizations to promote
recycling away from home.