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Zero Waste Pilot at Penn State

Penn State Showcases Zero Waste Efforts at Beaver Stadium to Key Stakeholders

Situation

Penn State Athletics’ events had a very large environmental footprint with fans attending events approximately 1 million times per year. To reduce waste and save money, the University targeted zero waste in their venues while creating a showcase to highlight sustainability efforts to key stakeholders.

Solution

  • Partner with the Green Sports Alliance (advice & contacts), NatureWorks, StalkMarket (Ingeo foodserviceware supplier), and GreenDrop (collection bins) to work toward zero waste in the suites section of Beaver Stadium
  • Switch to Ingeo-based cups, utensils, plates, and straws
  • Conduct waste audits after each home game in 2013
  • Educate and engage fans to help achieve zero waste goals
PSU Greendrop

Strategic Objectives

  • Achieve zero waste in the suite sections of Beaver Stadium
  • Learn from the suites experience in order to expand the initiative to all of Beaver Stadium and other athletics' venues on the PSU campus
  • Make the suites zero waste initiative a showcase for donors & government officials
  • Use the zero waste initiative to educate students about sustainability and conduct academic research

Ingeo Role In Meeting Strategic Objectives

  • NatureWorks' personnel provided ongoing advice, consultation, and key contacts to other parts of the supply chain
  • Compostable Ingeo-based food serviceware items from StalkMarket integrated easily and met high quality standards
Inside Beaver Statium
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Packaging and foodservice items were the first step in achieving our zero waste goals. Having Ingeo’s ASTM-certified products allowed us to have confidence that the materials we collected would be compatible with our university composting system. We were also confident that the suites clientele would not be disappointed in the performance of the foodservice items provided by StalkMarket.

Judd H. Michael, ProfessorPenn State University
Cup Water Stalk Market Photo

Key Stakeholders

Just a few of the key stakeholders include:

Internal

  • President's Office
  • Office of Donor Relations
  • Office of Government Affairs
  • Hospitality Services
  • Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Office of Physical Plant

External

  • Government Officials
  • Donors

Results

  • Diversion rate in the suites increased from 95% (at the first home game in 2013), to 100% by the end of the season.
  • Compostable materials were taken to Penn State’s own composting facility and made into landscaping amendments for use on campus and retail sale, closing the loop on the materials collected in the stadium.
  • Savings were relatively small, but allowed development of a system that could save thousands of dollars per home game in the 2014 season.
  • More than 30 Penn State students became zero waste ambassadors who worked each game as spokespeople for sustainability initiatives.
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Actions You Can Take

  • Work on the supply chain to make sure partners can provide compostable items that also meet performance demands.
  • Use sporting events as an opportunity to educate fans about broader sustainability initiatives and strategies.
  • Engage employees so they understand behaviors necessary to achieve zero waste success.
  • Make a business case for using 100% compostable and recyclable products.

Other Milestones & Outcomes

  • Waste audits were conducted after each home game to learn about the mix of waste being created and where efforts should be focused.
  • Partnered with Hospitality to ensure compostable foodservice items were used to avoid items going to landfill.
  • Entire experience gave Hospitality the knowledge and confidence to pursue zero waste initiatives in many other venues on campus where they provide services.

The Green Sports Alliance is a non-profit organization with a mission to help sports teams, venues and leagues enhance their environmental performance. Alliance members represent over 237 sports teams and venues from 16 different sports leagues. Visit  greensportsalliance.org to find out more.

Green Drop Logo

The GreenDrop Recycling Station was designed through the efforts of the Portland Trail Blazers Head Office to reduce their environmental footprint while minimizing expenses and being fiscally responsible through sustainable operations.​