Boiler Tailgate Team Recycling

Community Materials

At Purdue, we combine our sports fever with our mania for recycling. Through a generous $120,000 grant from the ALCOA Foundation in 2012, titled “Action to Accelerate Recycling,” the Office of University Sustainability (OUS) launched an ambitious football tailgate recycling program.

The Purdue Boilermakers football program, part of the Big Ten Conference, generates home game attendance of more than 200,000 loyal fans. Given that participation level, Tailgate Team Recycling has some great potential. During the inaugural 2012 season, the OUS collected total mixed recyclable material weighing 13,380 pounds, with an average diversion rate of 16.7% per game. We went from a low of 5.3% diversion rate at the first game to a high of 18.3% diversion rate for the last game of the season.

Overall, we learned quite a bit from that season, and took the lessons learned to implement new practices and further improve for the 2013 season. The changes were stimulating a recycling culture in the tailgating areas by providing better recycling infrastructure, engaging volunteers as ambassadors of the program, and marketing these efforts within the tailgating areas and stadium, on Purdue Sports Network Radio, and on the Purdue Athletics website. During the 2013 session, the OUS collected total mixed recyclable material weighing 45,430 pounds, with an average diversion rate of 31.4%, and in 2014, another 25,000 pounds of material was diverted at a rate of 25%. The 2015 season we increased to 30,000 pounds of waste diverted at an average rate of 28%.