Students recycle to participate in national Game Day Challenge

By Judy Nelson

Gray clouds hung low over InfoCision Stadium this past Saturday as a chill wind reminded all in attendance that Old Man Winter is on his way. Fans huddled close together, many with blankets around their shoulders and Styrofoam cups with steaming liquid in their hands. Down on the field, the men in blue and gold duked it out with their black and red opponents.


Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a group of dedicated student volunteers, also displaying their blue and gold but with an added touch of green, was hard at work alongside Andrew Henry and members of his Physical Facilities full-time and student staff. They were on a mission.

For the third year in a row, The University of Akron is participating in the Game Day Challenge, a friendly stadium recycling competition that challenges colleges and universities nationwide to reduce the waste generated at home football games. By participating in the program, schools are able to divert materials headed for the landfill by recycling and composting them instead.

The 2012 Challenge results, posted on the official website, state that 79 participating schools kept 1.09 million pounds of waste out of the landfills and prevented approximately 1,732 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released. This is equivalent to removing over 8,800 passenger vehicles from the road for a year.

According to the campus recycling website, Akron ranked No. 7 overall in 2012 for compost/organic reduction and met the department’s goal of 50 percent diversion. Andrew Henry, the university recycling superintendent, set the bar much higher for the 2013 season, and based upon the numbers tallied from last Saturday’s game, he already has reason to celebrate.

“I am truly thrilled that we have already met our 75 percent diversion rate goal,” Henry said in a phone interview.

This is good news for the Challenge team members who have been dedicating their Saturdays to the project when Akron plays at home. But this doesn’t mean that they will be slacking off for this Saturday’s home game against Kent State.


Designated Akron’s official Game Day Challenge game and with more fans expected, it will be a real test for the team, and they are looking forward to the support of the university community.

As at every other home game this year, Henry and his helpers will spread throughout the stadium, manning waste/recycle/compost stations and educating the fans, food service staff, and anyone else who will listen about where the “waste” items in their hands should go. After donning gloves, they may even be seen relocating items from one receptacle to another, ensuring that all are in their “proper” places.

Items such as food, napkins and candy boxes belong in “COMPOST.” Plastic bottles and cups, aluminum cans and foil, glass and cardboard go in “RECYCLE,” alternately labeled with the universally-recognized recycle symbol. This doesn’t leave much for the “TRASH,” according to Henry, and that’s the way they like it. Mission accomplished.

Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Andrew Henry at 330-972-6019 or by email at [email protected].