Colorado wins second-straight Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge for 2019 football season

Colorado wins second-straight Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge for 2019 football season
February 18, 2020
Posted by:
Jessica Crawford

By Pac-12 Team Green

Colorado will be recognized at 2020 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference at Utah

California, Oregon State and Stanford also recognized across 2019 football challenge

SAN FRANCISCO – For the second-straight football season, the Pac-12 today announced that the University of Colorado Boulder has been selected as the overall winner of the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge for the 2019 football campaign. Finishing in second place among the overall winner category was the University of Southern California. Earning subcategory wins across the challenge were the University of California, Berkeley (most-improved), Oregon State University (best student-athlete engagement) and Stanford University (best fan engagement). All four institutions will be recognized and honored during a special ceremony at the 2020 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference set for June 23-24 at the University of Utah.

“This is a terrific honor that many here at the University of Colorado will take pride in,” said Rick George, athletic director at Colorado. “We are proud to achieve this recognition from the conference for our sustainable efforts in and around Folsom Field.  Sustainability has been and is a very important part of who we are at CU, and we will continue to collaborate on our campus and with our peers to continue to elevate our profile.”

One of the core pillars 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 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 four judges selected one overall winner and one winner in three categories. The judging panel consisted of:

  • Bill Walton – Pac-12 representative, sustainability advocate & basketball legend
  • Mike Carey – LEED Expert & sustainability coordinator at Orange Coast College
  • Graham Oberly – Sustainability coordinator at Ohio State University
  • Cheryl Wong – Assistant commissioner, sports management & championships, Pac-12 Conference

More information on the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge is available at  More information on the 2020 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference set for June 23-24 at the University of Utah is available at

Overall Winner – 2019 Football Season: Colorado (vs. Stanford, Nov. 9, 2019)

  • For Colorado, all home games are Zero Waste games as the university established the NCAA’s first Division I sustainable athletics program with “Ralphie’s Green Stampede.” The program has seen Buffs athletics implement zero waste programs in all venues, zero-net-water use practices in all facilities and a zero-net-energy football practice facility.
  • For the game selected on Nov. 9 vs. Stanford, the Buffs achieved an 86.33% stadium diversion rate, including over 9,000 pounds in compost, over 3,500 pounds in bottles and cans and over 2,300 pounds in landfill.
  • The CU athletics department partnered with Ball Corp., this season to feature the global introduction of recyclable aluminum cups at football games in place of single-use plastic cups.
  • Colorado activated a reward program, “PIPs Rewards,” for all students and staff this past season. The app rewarded users for engaging in sustainability-related activities, including by attending zero-waste events like football games, recycling at games, and using alternative modes of transportation to get to games. By performing the activities, users received PIPs points that are eligible to redeem for food and discounts at participating vendors. Students on campus can also redeem PIPs points to offset up to $1,500 in tuition and fees in an academic year.
  • In a collaboration between Levy Restaurants and CU athletics, salvageable food from each game this past season was donated to local Boulder shelters. This past season, the program donated over 600 pounds in recovered food products.
  • More information on Colorado’s sustainability efforts is available at

Overall Winner, Runner-Up – 2019 Football Season: USC (vs. Arizona, Oct. 19, 2019)

  • For the Trojans’ Zero Waste game, the staff brought on 36 eco-ambassadors who provided event waste sorting guidance, raised awareness on sustainable practices and answered questions from fans.
  • In addition, USC President Carol Folt recorded a special video message ahead of the game (click to watch), highlight the university’s sustainability efforts and importance of those efforts across the entire institution.
  • The Trojans finished runner-up in the overall winner category thanks to those efforts along with dramatic improvements in their diversion rate. More information on USC sustainability is available at

Best Fan-Engagement – 2019 Football Season: Stanford (vs. UCLA, Oct. 17, 2019)

  • For Stanford’s Zero Waste game, the Cardinal staff activated in a number of ways, including pregame email newsletters to all season-ticket holders and students, providing information on and handing out special tailgate kits, sponsored by TQM, to all fans driving to the game as they parked.
  • Among other fan-engagement activities, Stanford also offered a rewards program for best practices in sustainability with the “My Cardinal Green” program, allowing users and members of the Stanford community to earn points and cash incentives for performing sustainable actions. Points were available for actions around gameday, such as sorting waste correctly or by volunteering to assist in sustainable practices.
  • As a leading academic institution, Stanford worked with a psychology class to better understand behaviors around sorting waste among tailgaters, supporting a class project. Though the study, students will be making recommendations on how to more effectively communicate the importance and methodology of waste sorting for future games.
  • More information on Stanford’s sustainability efforts is available at

Most Improved – 2019 Football Season: California (vs. Oregon State, Oct. 19, 2019)

  • As the overall winner of the Zero Waste Challenge for the 2018-19 basketball season, California earned the most-improved award for the 2019 football season primarily by increasing the diversion rate of the Zero Waste football game from 68% in 2018 to 85.9% in 2019.
  • With alcohol now being served for games at Memorial Stadium this season, the Cal Zero Waste team coordinated with the events and operations crew of the stadium to ensure all alcohol was served in certified compostable cups.
  • The Cal Zero Waste team and Cal Athletics were also recognized this season by Bank of the West with their “Changemaker” award for enhancing sustainability on campus. On behalf of this award, Bank of the West provided blankets to select fans throughout the stadium. These reusable blankets incorporated 100% post-consumer recycled plastic in the shell and insulation.
  • More information on Cal Zero Waste’s efforts are available at

Best Student-Athlete Engagement – 2019 Football Season: Oregon State (vs. Stanford, Sept. 29, 2019)

  • Oregon State’s student-athlete sustainability program, Beaver Athletics Sustainability Team (BAST), was founded by student-athletes on campus. The sustainability team identifies strategies and new initiatives surrounding sustainability, eco-awareness and improving the environment.
  • For their Zero Waste game, the BAST team engaged fans in the parking lots prior to kickoff and spread awareness about proper recycling opportunities before and during the game.
  • Oregon State also improved the effectiveness of their recycling collection at the stadium gates by purchasing 140 standalone recycling and trash bins, prior to the 2019 season. The increase in bins also provided for more visible and consistent reminders for proper recycling opportunities.
  • More information on Oregon State’s sustainability efforts is available at

Other highlights from around the Conference for the 2019 football edition of the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge included:

  • Arizona – Among the many efforts for the Wildcats’ Zero Waste game, Arizona activated around the stadium with information on recycling and provided tailgaters with recycling bags and educational information on best practices for recycling. More information on Arizona’s sustainability efforts is available at
  • Arizona State – ASU achieved an 85% diversion rate for their Zero Waste game, which featured recorded messages played on the video board from leadership across athletics, business and finance and the entire university. More information on Arizona State’s sustainability efforts is available at
  • Oregon – For Oregon’s Zero Waste game this year, the Ducks implemented a “greening your ride” to promote sustainable transportation to the game. As an incentive, a raffle was held for anyone who took a sustainable transportation method to the game. Prizes for the raffle included special events at Matthew Knight Arena, including a Cirque du Soleil show. More information on Oregon’s sustainability efforts is available at
  • Utah – Host of the 2020 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference next summer, Utah activated in numerous ways for their Zero Waste game. Among the highlights were a “Red to Green Tailgate” and a “Because Planet” campaign, with the winning fan from the tailgate challenge winning four tickets to a future football game next season and the campaign featuring branded efforts across the stadium explaining why students care about sustainability. More information on Utah’s sustainability efforts is available at
  • Washington – The Huskies activated around their Zero Waste game using a number of volunteers to help educate fans about proper recycling and composting practices. Fans who visited the activation areas could also follow UW Athletics’ Sustainability social media channels for a chance to win free tickets. More information on Washington’s sustainability efforts is available at
  • Washington State – For the Cougars’ Zero Waste game, among highlights included the staff activating around a theme of “Recycle, one throw at a time.” Prizes were handed out to participants who took photos and submitted the most creative way to throw the touchdown with the best submissions highlighted across WSU digital platforms. Through their efforts, the team diverted over 5,700 pounds of landfill waste and over 1,300 pounds of cardboard waste. More information on Washington State’s sustainability efforts is available at

More information on the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge is available at

About the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge

The Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge is one of the core pillars of Pac-12 Team Green, the sustainability platform launched in 2018 to promote sustainability efforts taking place on Pac-12 campuses and around the Conference. Each Pac-12 institution participates in the competition with the goal of determining which university diverted the most waste from the landfill at a select football and basketball game, as well as which used the most innovative methods to expand reach and impact of sustainability education efforts.

About the Pac-12 Conference

The Conference has a tradition as the “Conference of Champions,” leading the nation in NCAA Championships in 53 of the last 59 years, with 529 NCAA team titles overall. The Conference comprises 12 leading U.S. universities - the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Colorado, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Utah, the University of Washington and Washington State University. For more information on the Conference’s programs, member institutions, and Commissioner Larry Scott, go to​