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CHARLOTTESVLLE-The University of Virginia’s football fans stepped up during the 2010 Game Day Recycling Challenge and finished first in the Atlantic Coast Conference in the competition.

UVa finished ninth out of 79 schools participating in the Game Day Challenge, which measures the effectiveness of recycling at home football games.

The University ranked first among ACC schools for total recycling and per-capita greenhouse gas reduction and placed seventh among National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I institutions for total recycling.

“The participation from our fans and support groups gave us an opportunity to be the best in the ACC at reducing our energy footprint for that day,” said Michael Stroud, director of facilities and operations in the Department of Athletics.

Nina Morris, UVa sustainability outreach coordinator for the utilities division of Facilities Management, said, “It’s a fun, competitive program that encourages increased recycling as well as waste minimization, both of which help reduce our energy footprint as well as our consumption of resources.”

The challenge is part of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program and is designed to promote waste reduction and increase awareness of recycling. The challenge at Virginia took place Oct. 16 when the Cavalier football team hosted the University of North Carolina at Scott Stadium. UVa’s Department of Athletics worked with UVa Sustainability on the challenge and after the game 15,399 pounds of recyclables were weighed and compared to 30,600 pounds of trash generated.

In the competition, the top 10 recyclers in the ACC, measured by pounds of materials recycled on per-capita attendance, were:

1. University of Virginia, 0.368 pounds
2. University of Miami, 0.318 pounds
3. University of Maryland, 0.236 pounds
4. Georgia Institute of Technology, 0.198 pounds
5. Florida State University, 0.156 pounds
6. North Carolina State University, 0.146 pounds
7. Virginia Tech, 0.125 pounds
8. Duke University, 0.111 pounds
9. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 0.103 pounds
10. Clemson University, 0.065 pounds

The challenge involved more than 2.8 million fans. More than 500,000 pounds of waste was recycled, which prevented 940 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from being released.

U.Va. deployed volunteers who worked not only in Scott Stadium, but also with tailgaters in various parking areas to encourage and facilitate recycling.

“UVa Sustainability and Athletics worked together on implementing a strategic plan to educate fans and capture the most recycling,” Morris said. “We had a great team of 54 student volunteers who helped tailgating fans before the game collect their recyclables. They did an excellent job interacting with fans and helped spread awareness about how to recycle. The fans were happy to participate, especially because they could help beat rival teams.”

Specific winners in individual categories include Ithaca College and University of Tennessee at Martin, which tied for “Waste Minimization Champion” University of California at Davis, named the “Diversion Rate Champion” the University of Central Oklahoma, which was cited as “Greenhouse Gas Reduction Champion” and “Recycling Champion” and Marist College, named “Organics Reduction Champion.”

UVa Sustainability workers are determined to improve their efforts for next season, Morris said.

“Now that we have a baseline of performance, we can begin to make adjustments in the awareness and collection process to increase our rate for years to come,” Stroud said.

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