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CCU earns top ranking in 2022 GameDay Football Zero Waste Touchdown Challenge

February 21, 2023

Coastal Carolina University was recently recognized by the National Wildlife Federation and Campus Race to Zero Waste as the top-ranking campus for the waste minimization per capita category for the 2022 GameDay Football Zero Waste Touchdown Challenge. The challenge is a nationwide competition among colleges and universities to reduce and recycle the waste generated at home football games.

Campuses chose one home football game to track and report recycling, food waste, and trash data, and participated in any of three categories: recycling, waste minimization, and food organics. Of the 13 campuses that competed nationwide, CCU won the waste minimization per capita category, outranking Clemson University and The Ohio State University, among others.

On Nov. 12, CCU hosted Southern Miss for its last home football game of the 2022 season. From that game, the Sustain Coastal team was able to divert an 82% of the waste generated in the stadium away from the landfill.

“We carry a great deal of pride in winning this national competition,” said Jeremy Monday, CCU’s senior director of campus environments. “As Chanticleer football continues its rise in prominence across the country, we’ve strived to do the same. This achievement is a reflection of collaborative partnerships across CCU and the University’s commitment to sustainability.”

CCU defines zero waste as the process of diverting 90% or more of waste materials away from the landfill. This is accomplished through recycling, composting, and donating materials when possible. Sometimes, there are a few items that cannot be recycled, composted, or donated, which is why this is considered a zero waste effort.

Zero waste efforts started at CCU in 2015 with one home football game per season. As the Chanticleer football program and subsequent fan base grew, zero waste efforts did too. Now, every Chanticleer home football game is a zero waste effort, providing 17,000-plus fans with opportunities to recycle and compost their waste on game days.

During the 2022 football season, the Sustain Coastal team diverted an average of 73% of all material generated in Brooks Stadium from going into the landfill. Specifically, 3,800 pounds of compost; 9,300 pounds of aluminum cans and plastic bottles; and 2,600 pounds of cardboard. This is in addition to the 3,700 pounds of aluminum cans and plastic bottles collected from general and student tailgates.

“I am especially proud of the Sustain Coastal team and the hard work and commitment that this achievement and recognition represents,” said Darcy Coughlan, associate director of Sustain Coastal. “The student staff is core to the success of this program. I’m excited to celebrate this achievement with them and can’t wait to see what more we can do next season.”

Through partnerships with Chanticleer Athletics and Aramark Dining Services, concessions have moved away from single-use plastic packaging and have been replaced with compostable, paper-based packaging. This helps to eliminate a significant amount of waste from every game. Recently, plastic souvenir cups have also been replaced with aluminum cups that are reusable and infinitely recyclable. Not only has this prevented thousands of non-recyclable cups from going to the landfill, but fans are also offered an alternative that is highly recoverable, reusable, and a souvenir.

During each game, the Sustain Coastal team collects recyclables and compostable materials within the stadium from the zero waste stations. The remaining waste left behind in the stands is collected and hand-sorted after each game by student staff and volunteers.

“It is tough work with long hours in all types of weather conditions,” said Coughlan, “They show up with awesome attitudes and a commitment to make a difference in our community.”

In addition to the waste diverted from the landfill, each game also provides hands-on experiential learning opportunities for classes and individual student volunteers. Students gain insight into the scale of waste generated on campus and beyond, helping to raise awareness within the larger CCU community about sustainable practices that they can take with them beyond game day.

For more information about CCU’s zero waste football program, click here. For more information about Campus Race to Zero Waste’s GameDay Football Zero Waste Touchdown Challenge, click here.