LifestyleUNC Charlotte

Charlotte Is All In On Zero Waste Initiative

On the same day that UNC Charlotte broke ground on a new football stadium in April 2011, the Student Government Association passed a resolution about its operation. The resolution requested the University manage the stadium as a zero waste facility and defined that goal as diverting over 90% of waste away from landfills. It also directed UNC Charlotte to choose food-service vendors committed to zero waste practices and all packaging be either compostable and/or recyclable.

 Zero waste is an ambitious goal that challenges businesses and organizations to find ways to reuse, compost or recycle waste generated. Since 2009, UNC Charlotte has been obligated to meet the UNC System Sustainability Policy, to develop “programs that work toward achieving zero waste.”

From the start, the Zero Waste Stadium initiative required coordination by three different campus teams including facilities management, auxiliary services (and contractor, Chartwells) and the Athletics Department. They chose collection bins, lined up waste contractors, trained staff and purchased materials that could be recycled or composted.  Facilities Management, through its Building Environmental Services and Recycling unit, also staffed the inspection and sorting of stadium waste after each game.  

Having to sort through tons of stadium waste may sound extreme. But post-event sorting is routine for large event venues and is recommended in the waste management playbooks of the Green Sports Alliance. The extra effort ensures that composting or recycling companies receive clean shipments of these valuable materials from UNC Charlotte. A shipment with too much trash could be rejected and end up lost to a landfill, echoed by a loss of jobs and materials for the North Carolina economy.

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