‘Zero Waste’ Policy Takes Effect for New Stadium at Davis

The University of California at Davis is, to be sure, a pretty crunchy, enviro-conscious place. And now university officials are trying to encourage environmental awareness among football and lacrosse fans by establishing a zero-waste policy at the new 10,700-seat Aggie Stadium.


The policy goes beyond the standard push for recycling empty cans and plastic bottles. The university has also set up composting bins throughout the stadium for half-eaten hot dogs, nachos, and other food and paper waste.

“The only trash cans are in the bathrooms,” says Jennifer Stallkamp, manager of the stadium. “Everything that comes out of the concession stands is recyclable or compostable.” The stadium (right), which was formally dedicated on Saturday, opened in April.

Davis already has a zero-waste policy in its dining halls. According to Lin T. King, who directs recycling for the university, adding in the stadium wasn’t a huge hassle. In large part that was because of the cooperation of the concessionaire, Sodexho. Instead of plastic disposable utensils, the company now uses recyclable ones. And it found candy that comes in cardboard boxes (without cellophane) rather than in wrappers that aren’t recyclable. “We just made little changes like that,” says Mr. King.

Fans haven’t yet fully embraced the system, but it does appear to be catching on. The first home football game, in August, generated a modest 138 pounds of trash, but only about 55 percent made it to recycling or the compost site. The second game drew many more fans and created more than 10 times the amount of trash, but waste statistics improved significantly. Less than 28 percent of the trash had to be taken to a landfill; the rest was composted (nearly 50 percent) or recycled (23 percent).

It will be a few days before figures from Saturday’s sellout game will be available. “There is still some education to be done,” says Mr. King, but he hopes the Aggie Stadium will soon be a model for other universities. —Goldie Blumenstyk

Concession stand
Concession stands at the new Aggie Stadium offer a selection of waste receptacles, including bins for items that can be composted (U. of California at Davis images)

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