From September through November 2011, 78 colleges and universities across the country took part in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) second-annual Game Day Challenge. The goal: to lower waste generated at college football games and raise awareness of waste-reduction measures. Each of the 78 participating schools drew up a waste-reduction plan for one 2011 regular-season home football game, and then calculated how much waste was saved. Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn., was named the waste-minimization champion for producing the least amount of waste per attendee. The school generated only 0.059 pounds of waste per person, less than half of the per-capita waste of the second-place team, the University of California at Davis.

UC Davis was named the Diversion Rate Champion for having the highest rate of waste recycled and composted. The school salvaged 93.6 percent of its waste, a 4 percent improvement over its performance in 2010, when it won the Game Day contest.

Curbing its greenhouse gas emissions by 67.84 metric tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) total and by 0.001877 MTCO2E per person, the University of Virginia was the greenhouse gas-reduction champion. The school also took the title of recycling champion by converting 0.779 pounds of waste per person into energy. The University of Nevada at Las Vegas, took second place, recycling 0.675 pounds per capita.

The organics-reduction champion was Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which reduced its per-capita organic waste by 0.713 pounds per person. The University of Colorado at Boulder came in second place, reducing its by 0.153 pounds per person.

In total, the participating schools reduced their waste at football games by over 500,000 pounds, and in the process prevented nearly 180 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of the annual emissions from 159 passenger vehicles. The competition was sponsored by the EPA's WasteWise program, an initiative that helps organizations eliminate their reduce and recycle municipal solid waste and selected industrial wastes.