CU-Boulder Makes Enormous Strides in Recycling and Composting with Ralphie's Green Stampede

December 18, 2008

Fans of the University of Colorado at Boulder's football team are used to seeing a lot of black and gold, but now they can take pride in another color: green.

The 2008 football season saw the CU-Boulder Buffaloes embark on a recycling and composting program, dubbed Ralphie's Green Stampede, the first zero-waste program ever launched at an NCAA Bowl Championship Series stadium. CU-Boulder Environmental Center Director Dave Newport calls the Green Stampede a "runaway success."

"In our first year, we shattered all previous recycling records, drastically cut our sports events environmental footprint, and set the stage for continuous improvement toward a completely sustainable process," said Newport.

CU-Boulder Athletic Director Mike Bohn said CU and the entire Boulder community can be proud of the efforts being made on the field and in the stadium.

"We are extremely proud of the collaborative effort from the entire campus community in pulling this inaugural, nationally recognized effort together," said Bohn. "We salute all those visiting Folsom Field, including the students, fans and guests, for being so accepting and committed to ensuring that the University of Colorado's commitment to sustainability remains on the national stage."

The numbers are impressive. CU-Boulder collected more than 40 tons of recyclables and compostables from football games, a 199 percent increase over the previous year. About 80 percent of all materials generated inside the stadium during most home games -- an unprecedented amount for a major sports venue -- were diverted from landfills whether through reuse, recycling or composting. Some of the compost generated by the program will be used on the CU-Boulder campus during landscaping operations.

2008 marked other firsts for the recycling program at Folsom Field. For the first time more than 300 gallons of fry oil from food preparation was re-refined into biodiesel fuel for CU-Boulder's bus fleet. The program also replaced public-area trash cans throughout the stadium with recycling and composting containers, allowing the university to divert more than 14 tons of compostable food and biodegradable material away from landfills.

"The efforts of our staff, students, all the fans and our vendor, Centerplate, was nothing less than miraculous," said Newport. "Everyone worked incredibly hard to solve the inevitable startup issues and change the way we do business. It was enormously inspiring."

Newport said the 2009 season will build on this year's success, with new innovations coming to get CU even closer to its zero-waste goal.

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