Large blue recycling bags are helping to "green" tailgating at University of Kentucky home football games.
UK officials have made several attempts over the years to get the partying hordes outside Commonwealth Stadium to recycle some of the mountains of trash they create. There have been efforts by regular paid employees, Boy Scouts and, most recently, members of a sorority.
This year, the school is doing what recycling coordinator Tom Gregory calls "throwing a lot of people at it."
Last week, for the opening home game, 18 students were hired at $8 an hour for five hours each. They handed out the blue recycling bags and talked to people about recycling.
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About 1,800 pounds of recyclable items were collected. There would have been more, Gregory said, but some people who weren't working in the recycling program helped themselves to some of the aluminum cans.
As it was, about 75 percent of the haul was aluminum cans, Gregory said, and "the vast majority" of that was beer cans.
"I hate to guess, but I don't think we got the half of it," Gregory said. "Maybe a fourth."
This Saturday, 20 students will be working along with some regular UK physical plant staff. They will work only on the paved lots.
There will be 10 stations where people can take their filled bags.
Although aluminum brings a better price than other items that are recycled, Gregory said the project didn't make money in its first week and might not in the future. But recycling waste instead of sending it to a landfill "is the right thing to do," he said.
Students will continue to work at each home game this season. This week, they will get free pizza from Papa Johns and will be allowed into the game after their work is done.
Gregory said the amount of material put into the bags is expected to increase as more tailgating fans get used to the idea.
But the take from aluminum might decrease as the season goes on.
"As it gets colder, people switch from beer to whiskey," Gregory said.