The Autzen Green Team promotes sustainability at the University of Oregon’s home football games at Autzen Stadium by reducing the amount of recyclable materials to enter the local waste stream, and the amount of waste produced by celebrating fans from tailgating festivities, by collecting and recycling redeemable containers. The Green Team dually functions as fundraisers for local community organizations who provide volunteers to collect and sort redeemable containers. The program is a partnership between the University of Oregon Athletics Department, the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) and participating volunteers.
The volunteers are responsible for the majority of the program’s operational tasks: they hand out large plastic bags to individual parties in the Autzen parking lots and explain to tailgaters that they are working as part of the Green Team, providing them bags for to fill with their empty glass, aluminum, and plastic beverage containers. They also explain that volunteers will return to pick up the bags around the time of kickoff. The Green Team transports the full bags back to the OBRC truck that serves as the onsite sorting facility, and an ORBC employee begins the sorting process to remove contaminants. The bags are then taken back to the OBRC truck, and the volunteers finish the sorting process.
During the 2013 Football season, the Green Team captured more than 100,000 beverage containers that previously would have been at risk of entering the waste stream, earning over $8,800 in deposits in the process. Redeemed deposit revenues have enriched local community programs, providing high school band programs with much needed financial support. The volunteers also get to learn about recycling, educate their peers about recycling, and gain the satisfaction of doing something that directly benefits their parent organization as well as the environment.
This is just one of scores of examples of how sports and sporting venues throughout the U.S. are getting Greener and more sustainable, according to Stephen Ashkin. “It is a trend that is likely to have major positive repercussions on both the Green and sustainability movements in North American and around the world.”