Waste at sporting events – The Heights


Ah yes, the return of football from Boston College, or rather, the return of fans to football in British Columbia. First Saturdays and the atmosphere of the hatchback were greatly missed last season by current students, alumni and parents. Of course, what missed the most was the crux of the match day: actually being in the stadium. As BC athletic director Pat Kraft said in Chicago Tribune in January, “the good times are coming”, with “full stadiums” and “the campus buzzing” for games. Kraft’s words rang true in the first football game of the season in BC, as it seemed like almost everyone was present either at the tailgate, or at the game, or both. With the return of fans to the alumni stadium, however, comes the return of thousands of pounds of trash.

Many would describe the return to games as a kind of homecoming. Others, however, feel the anguish of having thousands of people in one place. For reference, British Columbia recorded an average of 34,185 alumni per game in 2019, and I wouldn’t be surprised if attendance were up given a number of factors this season for. the Eagles. One of those factors is the team itself. This is the first year that students can see Coach Hafley’s work in person. Add to that the fact that students are much more eager to attend the games after the pandemic. In the normal college experience, it was common to miss a few games, but now, after the 2020 season without fans, students will do everything possible to see the games at home.

High attendance at football games strengthens campus unity and pays off for British Columbia. A new coaching staff with an unbeaten season so far has reinvigorated the atmosphere of football in BC. So what’s the catch?


I mean, think about it. Compared to last year, how much more waste do you make while attending a football game than not being there? What about all the hatchbacks and items that fit into one hatchback? Think about all the concession stands selling not only food and drinks, but also napkins and food containers. And, think of all the concessions that don’t get sold, what happens to those items?

This waste issue is not, however, unique to football in the elders stadium. Conte Forum hosts both men’s and women’s basketball and hockey games, all of which draw large crowds. To determine the amount of waste produced during sporting events, three students from the environmental studies department carried out an audit of Conte Forum waste in 2016.

They found that during a typical sporting event at the Conte Forum, which can hold 8,606 fans, 0.0525 pounds of trash was produced per person. This waste ends up in a landfill, emitting greenhouse gases. This means that the total food waste measured at the Conte Forum during the 2015-16 season created 2,388 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

I’m not telling you not to go to the games, or even not to buy anything at the games. But instead I’m trying to point out that there are things we can do at the community level to make sure that we minimize the amount of waste – and possibly greenhouse gas emissions – produced during these games.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field established its Go Green program in 2003 to create an eco-friendly stadium, diverting 99% of stadium waste from landfills and running 100% on clean energy.

The sustainability of stadiums is not limited to the professional level. Folsom Field at the University of Colorado at Boulder proves that stadium sustainability is achievable at the college level. In 2008, Boulder began working towards its goal of a zero waste stadium. Since then, its annual diversion rates – measuring waste not dumped in landfills – have consistently been above 50%.

Compare the aforementioned waste diversion figures to those for British Columbia, measured in 2018: 38.3%.

To reduce waste from our stadiums, it’s important to order the right amount of food to begin with. An algorithm that would accurately predict the number of students who would attend a given game was suggested by students in British Columbia who performed the waste check and would allow vendors to buy the right amount of food, thereby minimizing waste. Staff in British Columbia are currently estimating crowd attendance and ordering food accordingly, but an annually updated, sport-specific algorithm could reduce the margin of error and therefore the total amount of waste.

As always, as individuals we can do more to buy less and waste less in the process. As for our athletic stadiums, looking at more sustainable waste management and prevention would not only be economically beneficial, but would also place BC stadiums among the few university stadiums that do the same.

It is only fitting that sports facilities in British Columbia reflect the same values ​​as those on campus towards the environment, namely sustainable energy practices, waste management and environmental awareness. In the meantime, let’s keep BC’s record for football wins, sing “Mr. Brightside” as loud as we can in the stands, and recycle our cans on the way in.

Graphic presented by Olivia Charbonneau / Heights Editor


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