As one of the largest capacity stadiums in the U.S., Neyland Stadium inevitably produces a great deal of trash.
However, by 2015, UT plans to make the stadium a zero waste venue.
Progress thus far is evidenced by the materials vendors now use for game day concessions.
Paper cups have graduated to recyclable plastic. Condiments, once individually wrapped, are now stationed in large dispensers. With the exception of warm beverages at winter events, polystyrene cups are a thing of the past.
Unlike former packaging, most materials used today are recyclable or compostable.
To encourage recycling and disposal in proper containers, UT will be rolling out new orange and white bins in the coming weeks meant specifically for composting and recycling. Set to appear first at Thompson-Boling Arena, these bins will be utilized at many university sporting events. White bins with orange lids will be designated for composting and vice versa for recycling.
Ironically, the $10,000 cost for the bins is a step down from past expenses to handle waste.
Previously, UT athletics allocated $20,000 a year for single-use boxes handed out to tailgaters for garbage. A recent switch to bags lowered costs significantly, and the newly purchased bins have further cut those expenses in half.
Although barriers to the zero waste plan at Neyland Stadium prevail, remaining challenges are limited to disposable cutlery and the occasional piece of polystyrene.
Currently, the university hovers at 30 percent waste free.
Jay Price, UT recycling manager, hopes to reach the zero waste goal next year.
"Zero waste encompasses not just compost and recycling but looking at everything that comes into the stadium," Price said. "We're slowly working at it. The hardest part is getting people to take their stuff to a container, let alone put it in the right container. It's a problem in a lot of stadiums."
But as long as outside materials are left among concession stand debris, zero waste is difficult to achieve.
Cleaning up the stadium after the UT-Vanderbilt game, Victoria Knight, senior in biological sciences, said she witnessed this difficulty firsthand.
"The amount of waste was insane," Knight said. "I don't think a lot of us think about it because we get so caught up in the game and the place is packed with people, but when the stadium is emptied out, the trash left behind was overwhelming. It also made most of us feel a little upset that people were not thoughtful enough to simply put their trash in the nearby trash cans."
AmeriCorps volunteer and UT Recycling Outreach Coordinator Bea Ross organized the student cleanup. Ross maintains that once UT students take note of recycling and composting efforts at other schools, awareness will motivate UT students to refrain from littering at games.
Ohio State University, home to a stadium only 126 seats short of Neyland's capacity, is approximately 98 percent waste free.
"We're a very competitive school," Ross said. "If people see there's other schools that are doing so much better than us, then they'll feel ownership and try to get us up there."