Would you want to see beer bottles, empty nacho containers, soda cups, plastic merchandise bags, forgotten posters, broken-off wristbands, fallen ticket stubs on your property?
Because these are just a few of the items left in heaps on the ground of the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., after a sold-out performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on April 2.
This is a familiar scene at the end of any given night at major venues such as the Bank Atlantic and Stephen C. O’Connell centers.
Trash piles up throughout the hours, and at the end of the night trash is all that remains. But what is done with that trash is what counts.
In the past year, the O’Connell Center has taken steps toward running a more eco-friendly venue through paper and plastic recycling incentives.
The O’Connell Center, which seats 12,000 people in the main arena, serves UF and the Gainesville community regularly.
Going green is a large task to which the O’Connell Center staff has responded to whether it is through sporting events such as the ever-popular Gator basketball games, concerts, such as Drake’s recent performance there, or arguably the most important event hosted there: commencement ceremonies.
“We have a team right now that is called the Green Team,” said Diana Caglianone, O’Connell Center senior event coordinator.
“They go to meetings and they congregate with other members of campus and determine what would be a good way to make green policies.”
In an effort to encourage event attendees to improve their recycling efforts, 44 recycling bins have been put inside the 296,000-square-foot building, Caglianone said.
A main initiative started by the O’Connell Center Green Team, which consist of four or five students who are advised by staff, is to reduce paper waste.
“We have a lot of paper waste for different events,” said David Lucier, O’Connell Center assistant director. “Score cards, information and stat sheets for the media, and for years it was being thrown in the trash.”
Once these recycling issues were recognized, actions were taken to correct them.
“We started putting recycling bins at the media tables, and we have special crews that go out after the events and grab as much of that paper as they can, and we recycle that paper,” he said.
Lucier said crews scour the center after events not only for paper but also for plastic waste.
He mentioned that the recycling count has increased after the Green Team’s initiatives to recycle more paper and plastic at the venue.
“Trash has gone down and recycling has gone up, that we can show,” Lucier said.
Although not technically a part of the Green Team, Lucier is an advocate of the eco-friendly policies that the team has implemented.
“We’re trying to do our part. We’ve posted more signs. We talk about it quite a bit with our set-up crews,” Lucier said. “The emphasis is placing those trash cans and recycling bins in places where people are going to notice them more.”
Caglianone was also enthusiastic about the sustainability efforts the O’Connell Center practices. She noted that all the O’Connell Center administrative offices recycle paper, a good that yields almost 25 percent of UF’s total waste. Of that 25 percent, only 10.5 percent actually gets recycled, according to the office of sustainability website.
“There is a tremendous amount of opportunity to reduce what we’re printing and what’s being printed and consumed,” said Ashley Pennington, UF Office of Sustainability outreach coordinator. “As well as making sure that it ends up in the right bin at the end of the day.”
So the next time you are cheering in the stands at the O’Connell Center, think twice before you throw that ticket stub on the floor. Chances are you are closer to one of those 44 recycling bins than you think.