Every setting has special features and unique challenges and its own way of handling them. When it comes to waste reduction and recycling, sporting venues of many kinds share some circumstances that are important to consider in plans for waste reduction and recycling.

Sporting Venues Use Materials Subject to Wisconsin�s Recycling Law

The State�s Recycling Law prevents the landfilling of certain materials which may be used at festivals and fairs.

  • Bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, landscaping debris, tires, oil and large appliances are among the materials subject to the law.
    • Players, participants and spectators use and discard plastic bottles. Tailgaters discard glass, aluminum, plastic and cardboard.
    • Behind the scenes, vendors use and discard plastic, metal and glass food containers and cardboard boxes.
    • Grounds keeping results in leaves, grass clippings and other landscaping debris.
    • The event headquarters may generate waste similar to that of an office � lots of paper.
    • Cups are not required to be recycled under state law. Haulers, however, may accept some types of cups for recycling. Souvenir cups that can be taken home by customers are a way to reduce waste at the source.
  • Every Wisconsin community has a recycling ordinance with language similar to that of the State Law.
    • Local ordinances may state fines for violations. The fines can be imposed if a citizen complains and are often preceded with a warning and time to fix the problems.
  • State and local officials offer information and assistance to help public facilities (and others) comply with the law.
    • Some communities offer recycling hauling services; others have advice and referrals to help facility managers.

Spectator Seating is a Factor

The arrangement of seating influences the way people behave when they have a recyclable item or trash to discard.

  • Spectators in stadium and bleacher seating tend to leave unwanted materials on the floor or in cup holders.
    • Ask your cleaning crew where they find recyclable bottles and cans.
  • Spectators in lawn/beach chairs and seated on blankets are likely to carry their discards to waste receptacles.
    • Noting traffic patterns for exiting spectators is helpful for planning recycling.
    • Spectators discard most materials as they exit at the end of the event. This means a lot is deposited in containers all at once, posing challenges for keeping areas clean
  • Spectators in skyboxes are likely to discard their materials near the serving area inside the skybox.
    • Knowing what is served in the skybox helps determine recycling needs.
  • Spectators that stand in crowds to watch events may discard materials as the leave event area or may leave items on the ground.
    • Ask your cleaning crew where they find recyclable bottles and cans.

Players and Event Participants Use Recyclable Materials

Thirsty players, runners, and riders discard plastic bottles on the sidelines, in the locker room and along the event course.

  • Wherever trash is collected a recycling bin should be available too.
    • Make sure participants know that water/soda/juice/sports drink bottles should recycled.
  • If beverages are distributed in cups, consider giving each player or participant their own reusable cup if practical.
    • A special commemorative cup or bicycle bottle can double as a souvenir from the event, reducing cup waste because people will take them home.
    • Drinks from coolers with taps can be served in reusable cups.
  • A bubbler (drinking fountain) is a better waste reducing choice than a water cooler because cups or refill containers are not required.
    • If the water dispenser need not be portable, consider installing a drinking fixture instead of buying or renting a cooler that requires refill bottles. This is a good solution for locker rooms or indoor sports.

Tailgating Needs

Tailgating culture entails a variety of waste and recyclable materials. Tailgater behaviors are completely different from spectator behaviors and require special recycling considerations.

  • Crowds carry in their food and drink but do not carry out their trash and recyclables.
    • The kinds of recyclable materials used by tailgaters are diverse and unpredictable.
    • The types of recyclable materials that are used include glass and plastic bottles and metal cans. Tailgaters also discard cardboard boxes that hold bottles and cans.
    • Tailgating areas need designated areas for hot coal and ashes. This material is not recyclable but should be separated from flammable trash.
  • Tailgaters do not roam but spend time in fixed locations until game time.
    • Rather than placing trash and recycling bins to suit the traffic flow the receptacles are �destinations.�
    • Special markings or signs are needed to help tailgaters locate trash/recycling stations among parked cars.
    • Visitors tend to gather all of their trash at once and must know which materials to recycle as they do so, before they approach the trash/recycling station.
  • Parking staff and others play roles.
    • If a contracted service manages the parking area they must be involved in recycling, planning and operation.
    • In some settings, the waste and recycling hauler in the parking area could be a different company than the one that serves the sporting facility.
    • Individuals or groups may gather aluminum cans after tailgating events to exchange them for cash. This is known as scavenging.

Vendor and Contractor Relationships

Sporting venues, vendors and contractors have long term relationships, allowing communication, purchasing decisions and collaboration to promote recycling success.

  • Food and beverage vendors make decisions that determine recycling needs.
    • The rise in popularity of single serve plastic bottles has increased the need for recycling in recent years.
    • Some venues specify the kinds of containers vendors may use for serving drinks to ensure they are recyclable or reusable (i.e. souvenir cups).
  • Vendors generate trash and recyclables in behind the scenes areas.
    • Food vendors typically have steel cans and glass jars in addition to plastic bottles.
    • Souvenir vendors and food vendors have cardboard boxes.
  • Contracts with waste and recycling haulers impact your recycling program.
    • Recycling haulers have specifications about what materials they accept and how they are prepared. For example, some accept bagged materials and others require that cans and bottles be loose in the roll-off container.
    • Specifications can be written to require haulers to address your specific considerations.
    • Fees and revenues vary widely and can be negotiated. Check the Involving Vendors section of this website for tips.
    • Trash and recycling can be handled by a single contractor or by separate contractors.
  • Contracted cleaning crews and services may play significant roles in a sporting venue�s recycling program.
    • Communicating responsibilities in specifications, contracts, job descriptions and trainings is important.
    • Visit the Involving Cleaning Crews section of this site for more tips.

Promoting Recycling

Sporting venues have numerous opportunities to make crowds aware of the importance of recycling and how to participate.

  • Scoreboards, programs and public address systems can convey recycling messages.
  • Players and event mascots can model the desired recycling behaviors.
    • Sports figures make effective advocates for community wide recycling and other environmental initiatives in addition to recycling at the venue.

Logo of Sporting Venues