The first tailgate recycling event was conducted on September 23rd, 2023. We collected 1,000 pounds of recyclables using our blue bag distribution system, which is a wonderful number to build off of. Staff members, along with volunteers and interns, shared recycling information with tailgaters and encouraged them to recycle. Illini t-shirts were offered as rewards to those that segregated and recycled their waste effectively.
In the 2022 football season, 228,520 pounds of trash was picked up from college football (including high school playoffs). The Fighting Illini, Fighting Waste initiative began with the understanding that our efforts to engage a community-wide audience on the issue of waste would be best executed through high-visibility athletic venues. Events with tens of thousands of visitors produce a sizable quantity of waste. Athletic events are also unique in that not only are we hosting students, faculty, and staff from our own university, but also rivals from other schools and visitors from across the state and country.
We have made a commitment through our iCAP to set the tone that we recycle not only in our campus facilities, but also our events.
Holding events such as tailgate recycling also allows us to view tailgate waste management through a boots-on-the-ground approach: where is waste produced, how is it produced, what is produced, and how can we divert it towards recycling as opposed to the landfill? We can then take our lessons learned and determine how best to integrate the approach within existing operations. The goal is to provide the necessary infrastructure and resources in a convenient manner, so that the act of recycling becomes a natural habit to tailgaters.