Michigan Recycling Raccoon Squad Debuts at UM Football Stadium to Help Kick Off 2022 Season

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The Furry Education Ambassadors will educate Wolverine fans on the do’s and don’ts of recycling in support of UM’s goal of diverting Big House waste from landfills.

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Acclaimed Michigan Recycling Raccoon Squad — the leading messengers of the award-winning national state Know it before you throw it away Recycling Education Campaign: Debuted Saturday at the Big House to help kick off this fall’s campaign. University of Michigan (UM) college football season.

The Recycling Raccoon Squad will encourage UM stadium attendees to place their waste in the correct area to avoid contaminating properly sorted recyclables and compost.

The Recycling Raccoon Squad will encourage stadium goers to place their waste in the correct area to avoid contaminating properly sorted recyclables and compost.

Images of the Recycling Raccoons and educational signage on recycling best practices will adorn about 250 locations throughout Michigan Stadium and will be displayed on 127 televisions in the concourse and premium seating areas throughout the 2022 season. Recycling Raccoon Squad will encourage stadium goers to place their waste in the correct area to avoid contaminating properly sorted recyclables and compost.

The installation represents a new sports marketing partnership between UM and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) that can help UM get closer to achieving its zero-waste game day initiative that has a goal of diverting 90% of football stadium waste from landfills.

“It is exciting for EGLE to team up with the University of Michigan and help support their recycling goals and climate change priorities,” said Emily Freeman, interim supervisor of EGLE’s Recycling and Sustainable Development Units.

UM’s new football recycling campaign with EGLE builds on the success of similar efforts EGLE has promoted during UM’s hockey games at Yost Ice Arena and basketball games at Crisler Center; at the Michigan State University football, hockey, and basketball campuses; during West Michigan Whitecaps minor league baseball games in Grand Rapids; and at the Rocket Mortgage Classic professional golf tournament in Detroit, among other sporting events.

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“Regardless of which team you support, all Michiganders can agree on the importance of recycling as a way to protect our environment, support local businesses, create jobs and keep waste out of landfills,” he said. Freeman.

On any given Saturday during a local UM football game, the more than 111,000 people who enter and exit Michigan Stadium generate approximately 6.5 tons of recyclable materials, such as cardboard pizza boxes, aluminum cans, and bottles and containers. of plastic. They also produce approximately 2 tons of compost, which includes customer-created food waste and specially designed compostable food trays, napkins, coffee lids, soda cups, cheese cups and lids, deli wrappers, popcorn bags, corn, spoons, forks, knives and straws distributed by the Casa Grande’s food and drink vendors.

“I think UM using a marketing campaign to improve our recycling habits is a fantastic idea,” said Sidra Smith, a UM junior and Traverse City native, as she posed for a photo during Saturday’s game in front of a Recycling Raccoon sign.

“This represents one of those rare moments when Maize and Blue fans can proudly say ‘Go Green’ and really mean it,” laughed Smith.

Michigan Athletics began a phased approach toward zero waste during the 2016 season, sourcing and testing the durability of compostable products and packaging and refining post-game cleanup operations to properly separate waste streams.

Every Sunday, after a home game, the stadium is cleaned and waste is separated into compost, recycling and landfill bins, which will be taken to their respective locations for sorting and disposal.

A zero-waste Michigan Stadium builds on UM’s more than 20-year history of recycling game-day waste and supports UM’s campus-wide sustainability effort known as Planet Blue. The effort stems from recommendations by a committee of students, faculty, and staff to advance the university’s progress toward its 2025 sustainability goals, specifically to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by 40% below levels 2006 and to strengthen the culture of sustainability. on campus.

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Most of the game-day waste that is recycled at the Big House is used in the Midwest to create new products, said Alison Richardson, Program Manager for the UM Office of Sustainability. All recyclables from the UM football stadium go to the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority plant near Chelsea.

About half of the waste is disposed of by fans in hundreds of composting and recycling bins throughout the stadium on game day. Inevitably, some contamination occurs when fans mistakenly place items in the wrong bins. Recycling Raccoons messages support existing UM-specific signage to minimize recycling errors and reduce material contamination, Richardson said.

While the waste generated from seven home football games per year represents only a fraction of a percent of the overall waste for the entire UM campus, the educational value of diverting waste at the Big House is significant, Richardson said.

“Obviously the stadium is a very public arena and an iconic facility,” Richardson said. “Each game gives us the opportunity to engage and educate a wide audience. The Zero Waste program at Michigan Stadium is a highly visible way to demonstrate UM’s commitment to sustainability.”

Recycling in Michigan has hit a new all-time high, 35.4% higher than pre-2019 levelsaccording to an EGLE analysis from 2022. This equates to Michigan now capturing more than 500,000 additional tons of cardboard boxes, milk cartons, plastic bottles, organic material, and other recyclables, which equates to more than 110 pounds per person each year.

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