A New Tailgating Ritual: Recycling

Tailgating at Steelers football games is a tradition for thousands of fans and part of that ritual is drinking plenty of beverages - and that leaves plenty of empty cans and bottles. Now foundations and environmental groups are trying to make recycling all of those empty containers a new tradition. The Allegheny Frontís Ryan Delaney was at the kick-off to the new recycling program and filed this report.

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Tailgating at Steelers football games is a tradition for thousands of fans and part of that ritual is drinking plenty of beverages - and that leaves plenty of cans and bottles. Now foundations and environmental groups are trying to make recycling all of those empty containers a new tradition. The Allegheny Front's Ryan Delaney was at the kick-off to the new recycling program and filed this report.

HAWKER: Terrible Towels, two for $5, here. Who knew?

DELANEY: Even a cold, drizzling Sunday morning in December doesn't stop die-hard football fans from flocking to the parking lots of Heinz Field hours before kick-off. Out come stereos, grills and... coolers of pop and beer.

It's hard to get exact numbers on just how much liquid is consumed before kick-off...

STEELER FAN: "UmmÖ" "Should we leave it at too many to count?" "That's a good number"

DELANEY: But the Alcoa Foundation - part of the Pittsburgh based aluminum maker - and the Pennsylvania Resource Council have teamed up to make sure all of those empty bottles and cans now get recycled. The program is called Let's Tackle Recycling.

Volunteers like Dave Mathews roamed through rows of tailgaters huddled-up trying to stay warm and dry outside of the stadium. Mathews and other volunteers wore sandwich boards with pro-recycling catch phrases like "Create an Immaculate Receptacle" and gave out empty recycling bags, encouraging fans to fill them up.

MATHEWS: "...Did you folks get a bag for your recyclables? Fill it up. I'll be back with an empty one for you; have a good day"

Dan is a Steelers fan from Clarion. He says he's glad to see an easier way to recycle.

DAN: I think it's a great idea. I think it's a real good idea; recycle a lot of this stuff.

DELANEY: Closer to the stadium gates PRC had set up a giant recycling version of the popular tailgating game Corn Hole. Fans tried to toss one of the blue bags through a hole surrounded by different recycling facts.

A large recycling truck sat nearby the game ready to haul all the bottles and cans away. Kyle Winkler is PRC's Director of Event Recycling. He says they loaded the truck with almost a ton of empties. They'll be collecting recyclables at home games the rest of this season and hopefully the next one too.

WINKLER: Having a program that's self-sustaining would be a measure of success; that people get into the habit of doing it and it just becomes the norm along with setting up 4 hours before kick-off.

DELANEY: Similar tailgate recycling programs have popped up at Philadelphia Eagles games and the University of Miami.

Here in Pittsburgh, Winkler realizes bottle collection is a source of money for the homeless community on the North Side and in the future hopes to get them involved in the program.

For the Allegheny Front, I'm Ryan Delaney.