Taking #2minute over the pond with #2minutecampusclean

from Andrea Harvey, campaigns manager at #2minutebeachclean

I’d been warned that it got hot in South Carolina in the summer. They weren’t joking with daily temperatures over 100o. Anyway, myself and social media guru Paul Trueman travelled to Clemson University with Renée Bedford from Coca-Cola North America to meet with their Dear Future Community Challenge grant winner, Bridget Cowen and the recycling team from Clemson, to check out the ideas we had developed together as part of Bridget’s grant winning idea to boost recycling on game days.

Unlike in the UK, US university sports are huge. Clemson Tigers, the university’s championship winning team, have an enormous following, with around 100,000 fans turning up to watch games and attend tailgating parties, where food and beverages are served under Clemson Tiger gazebos at the backs of pick-up trucks and cars. College football is such a big deal, that some of the national television networks screen the games live.

With 80,000 fans piling into the football stadium on a hot day, not getting sunburnt and keeping hydrated, are top priorities. With fans unable to bring in refillable water bottles into the stadium (but allowed to bring in a sealed bottle of water), potentially 80,000 plastic water bottles are being brought into the stadium during each home game, and to add to that, fans have further opportunities to buy refreshments from concessions inside the stadium.

All of this means that there is a lot of waste to be disposed of, recycled and processed outside of the stadium, as well as inside. One issue that the incredibly hard working Clemson University recycling team and their volunteers encounter after each game, is that a lot of material that could be recycled, is contaminated with food and drink waste. So, our task was to see how we could help reduce contamination of recycling and boost recycling rates overall.

To tackle these issues, working with Bridget, the Clemson University recycling team, the sustainability team at Coca-Cola North America and the local Coca-Cola bottler, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, we worked together to develop a toolkit of ideas that the University could use based around the idea of the #2minutebeachclean by creating the #2minutecampusclean. One idea was to give tailgaters clear plastic sacks with printed instructions on what and how to recycle. The hope is that these sacks will reduce contamination and increase the material recycled. Having clear sacks also makes the sorting job for the recycling team and their dedicated band of volunteers, who have to sort through the waste and recycling in the days following the game, easier and safer to deal with.

We sourced some orange recycling bins (that look like the Clemson football souvenir cups) for empty bottles and cans, and stickered some of the existing recycling bins to make them more obvious as to what their purpose was.

As well as investing in signage to be placed near the stadiums and of course, a #2minutebeachclean station for the artificial beach at the lake(!), the toolkit of ideas has really started to come together. We provided t-shirts to be given to the volunteers as a thank you for their outstanding efforts in handing out the recycling sacks, spreading the recycling message and sorting through the waste and recyclables in very hot and difficult conditions. Posters with recycling information were placed around campus and in bars and food outlets, thanks to Bridget and her sorority sisters. Bridget is also going to be working on some education resources for the local elementary school. We also had a specially designed #2minutestreetclean board made for this school.

To get fans in the #2minutecampusclean mood, they could win prizes by taking a photo of themselves recycling, using the #2minutecampusclean hashtag and posting it on social media.

We got lots of positive feedback from football fans about the messaging, the bags and the bins so it will be interesting to see if they have made any difference when the recycling rates have been analysed. Clemson University are already recycling champs, as they have won the RecycleMania National GameDay Recycling Championship in 2018 and 2017. The college football season runs until December so hopefully we won’t have too long to wait to find out what the outcome for 2019 will be, fingers crossed!

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