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Fall 2023: Tailgate Recycling initial meeting

Posted by Daphne Hulse on January 20, 2023

On January 20, Nikki Palella, Justin Holding, Shawn Patterson, and Dominika Szal, and Daphne Hulse met to discuss the following:

What will be recycled?

  • UIUC currently recycles plastics #1&2, metal, aluminum, paper, and cardboard

  • Products that can be found at tailgates: paper and plastic products, aluminum, glass

  • UIUC does not recycle glass:

    • Would we potentially be able to haul glass to the vendor that UIUC Dining uses? (Midwest Fiber)

      • Check cost with Midwest Fiber.

      • If there is a cost, consider DIA supporting this cost.

        • Selling point: anything recyclable will be free of charge to remove.

    • We would need to provide a separated bin for glass products at each tailgate section

  • Aluminum and plastic bottles can be collected, plastic and paper might be accepted depending on its use (plastic cups might be accepted, but any paper/plastic product used for food is most likely going to have to go into landfill)

    • Future idea: use diversion rates from the tailgating and stand pick up collection as segue into DIA concessionaire conversations (because we will eventually hit a wall for our diversion rate if we can’t collect food waste, food-soiled containers, non-recyclable materials)

What will need to be prepared

  • Signage regarding what is recyclable, what isn’t (this was successful at the basketball game).

    • Located at all the major parking lots: E14, E32.

      • Contact DIA to understand the SFC parking lot use for tailgating.

    • Could be a signboard located in key points throughout the tailgate areas.

    • In combination: have informational papers (pamphlets) attached to the bags that are handed out that explain what is/isn’t recyclable.

  • Centralized bins to collect recyclables and trash:

    • Swingpans, rolloffs, iSEE in a central location.

  • Volunteers would be needed (iSEE interns)

    • Roles:

      • Some could walk around carrying bags to give to tailgaters.

      • Some could walk around collecting recyclables specifically and provide information.

      • Some could stand by the bins to ensure that items are placed in the proper location.

      • Have it be shift-based. We learned at the basketball game that that would be most successful. During rush time (1 hour before the game starts, have the most volunteers on board).

  • Incentive via raffle:

    • Tailgaters incentivized to recycle, entered into a raffle if they do. Sustainable swag as a giveaway.

Other considerations

  • How many tailgating areas are there?

    • How many stands would be needed to cover each tailgating area? How many volunteers per area/in charge of a stand.

    • Grange Grove is popular spot.

    • Initially, we will only target E14 and E32 as this is where the majority of tailgaters will be, then we can expand as initiative develops over time.

  • Would we like to try to implement any “zero waste” games to go along with the tailgate recycling as well?

    • Idea: instead of having a zero waste game like we do for basketball, focus efforts on before games (tailgating) and after games (pickup in the stands).

      • We would need ~100-150 volunteers for stand pick up after games, assuming a 45min-1hour pickup session

        • Incentivize with free football game tickets.

        • Pro: having volunteers pick up would assist the DIA staff who would otherwise have to pick up the items from the stand (and put them in the landfill).

        • Con: less interaction/engagement with attendees.

  • Shawn’s idea: Gamification. Have service fraternities/sororities assist with the tailgate recycling and compete with each other to see who can collect the most?

    • Could implement this within the pickup in the stands, too.

  • See how our partnership with Coca-Cola could play into this tailgate plan - could they assist with volunteer t-shirts, costs etc?

  • How many games would we want to implement this program?

    • In 2022 UIUC held 7 home games between the end of August and the start of November (the final 4 of these games were Big Ten; bigger crowds). 6 took place on Saturdays. 1 occurred on a Thursday.

    • Start small, learn the dynamic of the space. Start pre-season, if possible. Work up to a Big Ten game.

      • Once we get a hang of how everything works, we can aim big.

  • Seek recommendations from peer schools (OSU).

    • Results from the Big 10 survey could really help.

F&S’ role

  • Collecting recyclables and trash after the event.

  • Providing the blue recycling bags.

  • Providing containers (free) for the tailgating spaces.

    • Reduces the overhead cost for DIA.

  • Daphne (ZW team - Shreya + Dominika) + Shawn.


  • January - May: Planning, strategizing with iCAP ZW team, F&S, DIA, iSEE, Coca-Cola as needed.

  • June-July: Buffer for any remaining planning. Prepare and execute publicity ahead of the fall semester.

  • Early-Mid August: Heavier publicity, recruit volunteers.

  • Late August: Launch the program.

  • Early November: Close the program

Immediate next steps

  • Dominika: Reach out to Midwest Fiber to determine the cost of glass recycling.
  • Shreya: Reach out to DIA (Tim Knox) about how the State Farm Center parking lots are used during tailgates.
  • Team: Look into peer schools' programs for best practices.
  • Daphne: Schedule a Memorial Stadium Tour (for the stand recycling initiative).
  • Team: Create a more refined vision/roadmap, meet with the group for follow up.