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Pac-12 Team Green

Uniting all 12 universities
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sustainable future

Colorado wins third overall Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge for 2022 football season

May 2, 2023
Arizona State, USC and Utah also recognized as category winners, with all four to be recognized at 2023 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference in June
SAN FRANCISCO - The annual Pac-12 Football Zero Waste Challenge winners were announced today after a successful 2022-23 season in which universities, athletics departments and sustainability offices collectively competed in the pursuit of zero-waste home football games. Colorado was selected as the overall winner for the 2022 football season, while Arizona State, USC and Utah took home honors for Innovation, Best Fan Engagement and Rising Star, respectively.
This marks the Buffs’ third overall victory, also winning for football in 2018 and 2019. Colorado has been recognized as a category winner each season of competition since the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge began during the 2016-17 academic year. For USC this is the Trojans’ seventh overall or category victory across football and men’s basketball, sixth for Arizona State and third for Utah.
All four schools will be recognized for their victories during a special awards ceremony at the 2023 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference, hosted by Stanford from June 21-22. For more information on the conference and to register, visit
About the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge
A core pillar of Pac-12 Team Green, the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge is held annually during both football and basketball seasons. Each university selects one home football and one home basketball game to compete and provide a platform for engaging on best practices in waste diversion. As part of the competition, each competing university submitted a scorecard detailing the efforts around its Zero Waste game. Criteria is weighted as such: 25 percent participation and partnerships, 25 percent innovation credit and 50 percent stadium diversion rate.
A total of three judges selected one overall winner and one winner in three categories. The judging panel consisted of:
  • Mike Carey - Senior Sustainability Manager, CR&R Incorporated
  • Monica Rowand - Sustainability and Environmental Solutions, WM Advisory Services
  • Laura Gonzalez-Ospina - Waste & Sustainability Coordinator, California State University, Sacramento
More information on the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge is available at

Overall Winner – 2022 Football Season: Colorado (Sept. 24 vs. UCLA)
  • Achieved 88.2% diversion rate for their Zero Waste game with over 7,500 pounds in recycling and over two-and-a-half tons in compost.
  • Colorado staff and volunteers dedicated over 1,800 hours to sustainable gameday operations for six home games and 22 official tailgates through hand sorting waste, fan engagement, vendor training, and zero waste messaging. These efforts reflected a season diversion rate of 84.4% at Folsom Field.
  • RGS (Ralphie's Green Stampede) Zero Waste Goalies volunteer on gameday to help fans be more sustainable. They wear rPET "Zero Waste Team" t-shirts and educate fans about the program to help organize waste before it gets to the zero waste sort.
  • The Franklin Field ZW Tailgate is set up to be as zero waste as possible. At every home game, tailgate tents receive a sustainable kit containing Eco-Products food service items, monitored clear stream waste stations for varied collection of waste materials (compost/recycle/landfill), and messaging on "How to be a More Sustainable Tailgater.” The most sustainable tailgate is named the “Tailg8ter of the Game,” winning signed football collectables and a small flag to hang from their tent.
Best Fan Engagement – 2022 Football Season: USC (Oct. 1 vs. Arizona)
  • Achieved 91.3% diversion rate for their Zero Waste game, including over three tons of recycling and over five tons of compost.
  • USC president Carol Folt created a video message highlighting the Zero Waste Game, calling on all members of the Trojan community to do their part to help achieve the goal of zero waste.
  • Campus signage, website content, and social media posts, including “Waste Ed Wednesday,” provided waste disposal instructions to game attendees and campus tailgaters. A gameday central page was created with Green tailgating tips and sustainability resources, as well as expectations for the zero waste game.
  • Sustainability highlights were displayed at all concession stands and on premium suite digital screens, and zero waste content and single-use plastic elimination information were showcased on the big board.

Rising Star – 2022 Football Season: Utah (Nov. 5 vs. Arizona)
  • Achieved one ton in recycling and 50 pounds in compost for their Zero Waste game.
  • Composting was implemented at the MUSS tailgate alongside trash, aluminum and plastic recycling. Volunteers engaged with students about which materials are recyclable, what compost is and why it is related to climate change.
  • Fans participated in a pre-game Q&A on the jumbotrons and on concourse screens, which also featured information about the sustainability efforts at Utah.
Innovation – 2022 Football Season: Arizona State (Oct. 8 vs. Washington)
  • Achieved 81.81% diversion rate, including over six tons in recycling, over three tons in reuse and over one ton in compost.
  • Sun Devil Athletics and ASU Zero Waste connected with Homer Farms to pilot a new composting system for the stadium, which tested a recently developed technology that would allow for better diversion of materials and mechanical sorting of compostable waste.
  • Arizona State created a new compost procedure for the operations teams, Sodexo, LandCorp, and Olympus.
Other highlights from around the Pac-12 for the 2022 football edition of the Zero Waste Challenge included:
  • California - The Golden Bears interacted with their fans to offer hands-on education about sorting and promote Cal’s zero waste goals. This year they worked more with tailgaters, dropping off recycling and composting stations in the parking lots which inspired them to start working on a Zero Waste Parking lot proposal for next season.
  • Oregon - Oregon’s marketing department cut down on printable materials by offering downloadable yearbooks, posters and schedules via QR codes. A valet bike service was available adjacent to the stadium, which also accommodated e-bikes.
  • Stanford - Parking attendants and sustainability interns distributed landfill, recycling and compost bags with packaging that explained their uses and where to properly dispose of them. A student group helped coordinate food donation to their local food bank.
  • UCLA - The Bruins, Rose Bowl Stadium and 301 Organics joined forces for the Zero Waste Game, recovering food waste and compostable materials while donating unused food to local organizations. Learfield engaged with Coca-Cola at the main tailgate area to promote recycling by handing out vouchers to upcoming UCLA athletic events.
  • Washington - Staff provided fans with information on sustainability efforts, who could win prizes by answering sustainability-related questions. Volunteers encouraged proper recycling and composting throughout the stadium while educating fans about waste diversion.
  • Washington State - Signage was used throughout campus to promote the Zero Waste game. Washington State's Environmental Sustainability Alliance tabled the event, providing an opportunity for students to get involved with environmental outreach on campus.