Pac-12 Team Green

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Cal wins fourth-straight Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge, presented by Eco-Products, for 2019-20 basketball season

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Utah, USC and Washington State also selected as subcategory winners
SAN FRANCISCO – For the fourth-straight basketball season, the Pac-12 today announced that the University of California, Berkeley has been selected as the overall winner of the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge, presented by Eco-Products, for the 2019-20 campaign. With the recognition, California has now been selected as the overall winner in each of the annual challenge’s four competitions for the basketball season since its creation in 2016. Earning subcategory wins across the 2019-20 challenge were also the University of Utah (best fan engagement), University of Southern California (most improved) and Washington State University (best student-athlete engagement).
About the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge, presented by Eco-Products
One of the core pillars of Pac-12 Team Green, the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge is held annually during both football and basketball seasons. Each university selects one home football and one home basketball game to compete and provide a platform for engaging on best practices in waste diversion. As part of the competition, each university submitted a scorecard detailing the efforts around its Zero Waste game. Criteria is weighted as such: 25 percent participation and partnerships, 25 percent innovation credit and 50 percent stadium diversion rate.
A total of four judges selected one overall winner and one winner in three categories. The judging panel consisted of:
  • Bill Walton – Pac-12 Team Green Champion, sustainability advocate & basketball legend
  • Mike Carey – LEED Expert & sustainability coordinator at Orange Coast College
  • Tyler Sytsma, Sustainability Coordinator, UNC Charlotte
  • Cheryl Wong – Assistant commissioner, sports management & championships, Pac-12 Conference
More information on the Pac-12 Zero Waste Challenge is available at
Overall Winner – 2019-20 Basketball Season: California (men’s basketball vs. Utah, Feb. 29, 2020)
  • Achieved 93.5% arena diversion rate for their Zero Waste game.
  • Cal Zero Waste collaborated with a number of different groups on campus as well as outside volunteers on involvement with their Zero Waste Challenge, including working with concessions personnel to ensure all utensils and cups in arena were compostable or recyclable.
  • The Cal Zero Waste team also provided complimentary tickets to facilities and service staff in recognition of their hard work and contributions to all campus zero waste efforts.
  • In addition to working with concessions services, the Cal Zero Waste team also worked with custodial services and outside volunteers to ensure proper placement of bins, proper signage associated with the bins and proper zero waste education for on-site volunteers and “trash-talking” efforts.
  • Other game day activations around Zero Waste efforts included involving influential figures on-site from AD Jim Knowlton to the Cal Women’s Volleyball team to the Cal Cheer Team.
  • More information on Cal Zero Waste is available at
Best Fan Engagement – 2019-20 Basketball Season: Utah (women’s gymnastics vs. Stanford, March 6, 2020)
  • Utah chose to utilize a women’s gymnastics meet for their Zero Waste Challenge, given the program’s unprecedented attendance success.
  • Rather than focus solely on environmental aspects of sustainability, Utah chose to utilize its Zero Waste Challenge to focus on social equity as a pillar of sustainability.
  • In doing so, Utah adapted their “because planet” message to “because people,” and partnered with local non-profit organizations, including the INN Between which provides hospice care for people experiencing homelessness and the Maliheh Free Clinic which provides healthcare services to and life coaching for low-income and uninsured Utahns.
  • The work of these organizations and messages of social equity were on display for over 15,000 in attendance for the select women’s gymnastics meet.
  • More information on the sustainability office for the University of Utah is available at
Most Improved – 2019-20 Basketball Season: USC (men’s basketball vs. Arizona State, Feb. 29, 2020)
  • USC participated in the Zero Waste Challenge for the first time with their men’s basketball game vs. Arizona State on Feb. 29, 2020.
  • Achieved 91.6% arena diversion rate for their Zero Waste game.
  • Procured waste receptacles specifically for the event and enabled front-of-house composting at the Galen Center for the first time.
  • Other improvements included impactful messaging from the university, including assistance from President Carol Folt who invited the student body and university staff to attend the game and support the zero waste efforts.
  • More information on USC sustainability is available at
Best Student-Athlete Engagement – 2019-20 Basketball Season: Washington State (men’s basketball vs. Arizona, Feb. 1, 2020)
  • Washington State utilized special video content in-arena to provide impactful messages of recycling with their #CougsRecycle message.
  • The special video content included game highlights from earlier in the season during Washington State’s special retirement ceremony game for former Cougar Klay Thompson as well as game highlights from the women’s basketball program against rival Washington.
  • These special videos featured memorable Cougar moments with a plastic water bottle in place of the actual basketball, illustrating the message of recycling into the right bucket.
  • More information on Washington State sustainability is available at

Other highlights from around the Pac-12 for the 2019-20 basketball edition of the Zero Waste Challenge, presented by Eco Products, included:
  • Arizona – For their men’s basketball game against Oregon on Feb. 20, Arizona focused efforts on reducing the contamination rate in the university’s recycling stream, increasing the diversion of waste from the game and educating fans and staff about the importance of reducing waste on campus.
  • Arizona State – On Feb. 28, Arizona State achieved 91% diversion rate for their women’s basketball game against California. The team utilized e-mail marketing, in-game announcements, video messaging and social media to inform and educate fans about the Zero Waste game and the university’s sustainability efforts.
  • Colorado – The Buffs elected to utilize a doubleheader for their Zero Waste Challenge, with both the women’s and men’s programs playing on Jan. 12. In total, Colorado achieved 87.5% diversion rate, including over 1,000 lbs in compost and over 450 lbs in bottles and cans.
  • Oregon – For their men’s basketball game vs. Stanford on March 7, Oregon hosted educational programming throughout the event, including “Recycle Jeopardy,” a true/false quiz, a recycle-it-right presentation and a guess-the-weight contest of a cube of compressed aluminum cans.
  • Oregon State – On Jan. 19, the Beavers women’s basketball program hosted Stanford for their Zero Waste game, activating student groups and increased communications around messages of proper recycling practices.
  • Stanford – For their Zero Waste game, Stanford chose to hold their event over two events with a women’s basketball match vs. Oregon State on Feb. 21 and a men’s basketball game vs. Utah on Feb. 26. Including amplified communications and messaging with informational materials, Stanford also deployed increased sets of recycling and compost bins throughout the arena.
  • Washington – On Dec. 2, for the Huskies’ men’s basketball game vs. South Dakota, Washington showcased sustainability efforts and encouraged fans take part in the efforts throughout the day. During this Zero Waste game and every home basketball game this past season, Washington utilizes a “Green Minute” message via the arena video board and in-arena announcements to inform fans about the efforts.