Campus & community, Campus news

Cal wins Pac-12 zero-waste basketball contest (again)

UC Berkeley took first place (again) in the 2016 Pac-12 Road to Zero Waste Basketball Competition, a contest to see which campus could divert the most waste at a designated basketball game.

youth with composting signs

The Green Sports Alliance last week announced the winners of its 2016 Pac-12 Road to Zero Waste Basketball Competition. First place, for the second year in a row, went to UC Berkeley.

For the contest, members of the Pac-12 Conference vie to see which campus can divert the most waste from landfill at a selected men’s or women’s basketball home game, and which can use the most innovative means to expand the reach and impact of their school’s annual recycling showcase. All Pac-12 schools participated this year.

two elementary school boys

Among UC Berkeley’s secret weapons for the zero-waste contest: 18 StopWaste volunteers, deployed at recycling locations throughout Haas Pavilion

UC Berkeley won with a diversion rate of 85.3 percent, achieved at a Feb. 28 home game between the Bears men’s team and USC. Fans sent 617.7 pounds of materials to compost and recycling instead of the landfill.

To achieve those numbers, Berkeley students, staff and volunteers carried out numerous activities — such as piloting the use of compostable ziplock bags for bulk candies; handing out raffle tickets to fans “caught” correctly sorting their waste; implementing permanent zero-waste composting and recycling locations in the second and third floor of Haas Pavilion; and stationing elementary school and campus student volunteers at waste stations to educate patrons and help them correctly sort their waste.

“This win was especially meaningful since we encountered new challenges,” says Lin King, manager of Campus Recycling and Refuse Services. The challenges, he adds, included a sold-out game — with nearly 12,000 fans in attendance — “an increase in materials that were not recyclable or compostable brought into Haas Pavilion, and a lower Cal student volunteers turnout.”

In addition to its back-to-back wins in the Pac-12 Road to Zero Waste competition, UC Berkeley earned first place in the past three Recyclemania contests, a national competition based on diversion rates alone.

For a glimpse of what went into the recent campus effort, see this recap video (password: gobears).