Football fans tackle recycling at Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- It's often said that on game day, Penn State's Beaver Stadium becomes the third-largest "city" in Pennsylvania. Each home football game attracts more than 200,000 tailgaters, spread across 110 acres of University fields, generating 50 to 100 tons of waste. Instead of sending all that waste to local landfills after every home game, Penn State encourages fans to recycle.

For 16 years, Penn State students have urged football fans to do the right thing -- clean up after themselves -- for a good cause. By strategically placing more than 290 recycling carts throughout tailgating areas and recycling more than 85 tons of waste each football season, Penn State also raises money for the Centre County United Way. Proceeds made from football game recycling go to the State College-area chapter of the national philanthropic organization.

“This effort demonstrates to everyone who visits Penn State that even at a large venue like a football game, recycling is easy to do and helps our neighbors,” said Al Matyasovsky, supervisor of Central Support Services in the Office of the Physical Plant and adviser to the Penn State Student recycling organization, Students Taking Action to Encourage Recycling (STATERs).  “I think our fans enjoy doing it. It’s part of the Penn State experience without taking away from the fun of tailgating.”

What STATERs and football fans do take away when they recycle are extra hours and related costs required to clean up after each game. Matyasovsky said that after one particularly messy Penn State–Ohio State game, which took workers five days to clean, he decided there had to be a way to make cleanup more convenient. Having STATERs walk around tailgating areas and hand out recycling bags to tailgaters, as well as attaching recycling bag dispensers to Dumpsters, has saved Penn State at least 25 percent of the labor it takes to clean up the fields and stadium. In turn, he said, those preventative actions have saved Penn State a significant amount of money.

“People get why we are recycling on game day and they respect it,” he said. “I have never heard any complaints about it. Fans say it’s a great idea.”

More information about game day recycling can be found online here. Pictures of game day recycling can be found here.

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Last Updated October 11, 2011