Good Sports Always Recycle program educates, challenges Tennessee’s K-12 schools in statewide competition

With football season in Week 3, the Good Sports Always Recycle™ (GSAR) team is kicking off another season of educating students and involving communities, all while helping the environment. For the past 17 years, the Good Sports Always Recycle™ program has not only encouraged University of Tennessee fans to recycle their plastic bottles and cups at every UT athletic home game, but also sparked competition among Tennessee schools.

GSAR nomination process for its school recycling challenge will go through Sept. 24. K-12 schools across the state of Tennessee can go to and nominate their recycling program to be one of 10 schools across the state recognized for their efforts. Good Sports Always Recycle™ judges schools on the impact their recycling program has on their community, their new and unique approaches to recycling and waste reduction, their overall environmental efforts, as well as the investments they have made, and will continue to make, in a recycling program.

“The Department of Environment and Conservation supports recycling and resource conservation efforts and the Good Sports Always Recycle program fits the bill,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke. “From educating students at an early age, to implementing large-scale recycling efforts at UT athletic facilities, the program sets a good example for reducing waste and encouraging recycling.”

Good Sports Always Recycle™ is a joint effort of sponsors representing the life cycle of a plastic bottle, with Eastman Chemical Company, the manufacturer; the Knoxville Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the distributor; Food City, the seller; and Waste Connections, the recycler.

Each year, the top 10 schools win $500 to improve their recycling program, a plaque, and a trip to a University of Tennessee football game, which this year will be played against Alabama on Oct. 23. At the game, representatives from the winning schools will participate in a one-of-a-kind tailgate party with numerous special guests and will be honored on the field during the game.

“One of the most amazing parts of the program is to see the faces of the winners as they walk onto the field with 100,000-plus fans cheering them on,” said Dave Shelek, Knoxville Sales Center Manager, Coca-Cola Enterprises. “This kind of recognition is a great way to honor these schools for their environmental stewardship and to encourage other schools to start or improve their programs.”

Since the start of the program, 160 schools have been recognized for their recycling and environmental programs, and previous winners’ programs represent every aspect of recycling – from everyday paper and plastics to computer parts and cell phones.

“Waste Connections is committed to the environment, and we strive to make a difference in the communities in which we live and work,” said Steve Lafollette, Division Vice President for Waste Connections. “Good Sports allows us each, as individuals and partners, to make a difference in Tennessee by focusing on recycling PET plastics, one of the most versatile materials that is entirely recyclable. By recycling one ton of PET bottles, it saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space, so recycling this, and other materials, is very important.”

The Good Sports Always Recycle™ program resulted in the recycling of more than eight million plastics cups in its first 15 years, and in the UT 2009 football season alone, more than 34 tons of recyclable materials were collected with a goal of 60 tons for 2010. Because recycling was been such a success at football games, the program expanded its reach to other athletic facilities in 2008, and Vol fans now have the ability to recycle at any athletic event, any time of the year.

“Making Tennessee Green is a challenge that the University of Tennessee has taken on, and one that Good Sports Always Recycle™ has helped them achieve,” said Ron Bonacci, Food City vice-president of marketing. “But the program has not only made an impact at UT, it has helped students, schools and communities across the state focus on the environment by encouraging recycling at home and schools.”

In addition to the school recycling challenge, the Good Sports Always Recycle™ program provides an educational packet (available online at that provides teachers with helpful material to educate students about reducing, reusing and recycling in an effort to help take care of the environment. Suggested lesson plans offer ways to get these efforts started, as well as recycling tips, resources, and program ideas to help boost environmental efforts at school and home. This packet is designed to instruct all grade levels and is divided into elementary, middle and high school lesson plans and activities.

For more information about Good Sports Always Recycle™ program, visit at or contact Jennifer Wiggins at 865-680-1457. The nomination deadline for the Good Sports Always Recycle™ program recycling challenge is Sept. 24, 2010. Entries can be submitted online, faxed to 865-483-8851 or mailed to Good Sports Always Recycle, 173 Mitchell Road, Oak Ridge, TN 37830.

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