While the University of Nebraska values the product it places on the football field very highly, it has long ignored what is left behind in the stands. After each home game stands are strewn with trash and recyclable items that are left from concessions sold during the game. Recycling containers inside and around Memorial Stadium are inadequate to hold all the bottles consumed during the game, leaving fans with limited options for disposing of their bottles.
UNL holds a contract with the student ROTC for each game to collect all trash and recyclables left in the stands within seven hours of the conclusion of each game. All of this material is thrown away, as the ROTC is not contractually obligated to separate the materials, nor are they granted access to a provider to haul these recyclables to a local site.
This situation could be remedied by renegotiating the ROTC’s contract to include a clause requiring them to collect recyclables prior to waste material. The chancellor could easily make this happen by mandating that athletics be responsible for the collection of ALL recyclable materials in the stadium, or by directing the institution of a new program directed at eliminating this oversight.
Volunteers can only do so much, although great efforts have been made for the last three years to collect plastic materials from within the stadium during one select home football game. At each occurrence, volunteers were able to divert over 6,500 lbs of plastics from the landfill. Accomplishing this required weeks of coordination and recruitment, and thus is not feasible for seven home games during the fall.
Over the last three years, UNL Landscape Services, students, and the Lincoln community have all gone to great lengths to ensure as much of the recyclable material used at Husker Football games is recycled as possible. For three years students and community members have participated in the UNL Landscape Services’ “Go Green for Big Red” pregame recycling program, in which participants educate tailgaters about UNL’s commitment to making the campus green and clean, while distributing and collecting green bags for recycling.
With the tens of thousands of pounds of recyclable materials volunteers have collected in just the last few years we feel that UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman holds a responsibility to support our efforts, just as we have worked to advance sustainability at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
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