Trash sorters help create zero waste baseball stadium

Mason Carroll

While most baseball fans are relaxing and enjoying the game, Lauren Lichterman, operations and sustainability coordinator, and her team sort trash during and after each game.

The UFCU Disch-Falk Baseball Field is the only zero waste NCAA Division I stadium in the nation. Lichterman said while it may have taken time, the stadium has been zero waste since 2017, and she could not be happier.

“I am very, very proud of that,” Litcherman said. “Being the only zero waste collegiate baseball stadium in the country is one of my biggest accomplishments while working at Texas Athletics.”

Zero waste means 90 percent of the total waste that is generated during an event is diverted from the landfill to recycling or compost. Litcherman said so far this season they have composted six tons of waste from both baseball and softball games.

Lichterman said one of the biggest factors that has helped the stadium reach its goal was its concessionaire changing compostable products, such as changing plastic nacho containers to compostable paper.

“We realized we pretty much control the waste because we don’t allow fans to bring things into our stadium,” Lichterman said. “They have done a fantastic job changing over their products. I would say they have changed over 85 percent of what comes out of the concession stand.”

Lichterman and her staff, called Sustainability Squad, do the majority of the sorting but welcome volunteers. Lichterman said she is in need of volunteers this upcoming weekend to help sort at all three games during zero waste weekend.

“It takes a village to make zero waste happen,” Lichterman said. “Anyone who can come and volunteer would be a huge help. That is the next area that we need to improve on — getting a consistent stream of volunteers.”

Sustainability junior Paige Redsun is a member of Lichterman’s team. Redsun said she first joined because of a class, but now plans to work with Sustainability Squad until she graduates.

“Pretty much what we’re doing at the game is to make sure the right trash gets in the right waste stream,” Redsun said. “(We tell fans) UT is trying to get waste free by 2020, and we’re trying to maintain that we are the only NCAA Division I stadium that is zero waste.”

Redsun said she was not expecting to sort trash when she first applied for the job, but she now has an appreciation for the work that they do.

“After I did it just once, I felt very good, and I felt like I was doing the footwork of sustainability,” Redsun said. “You know, I don’t look super great when I’m sorting through trash, but I truly feel like I’m doing what needs to be done and I’m doing good.”

Sustainability studies freshman George Roth has volunteered in the past with Sustainability Squad at football games and said he knows how important their job is.

“It makes me smile and nod approvingly that we’re caring enough as a university to help tackle the monumental problem of waste,” Roth said. “It’s great to see Texas Athletics partnering with sustainability efforts, as many sporting events have insane amounts of waste.”