Office of Sustainability collects food waste during Football Fridays at the Eck

Author: Donnetta McClellan

Sustain Interns Web

Pictured: Dan Venetucci and Daniel Rottenborn

Football Fridays at the Eck continue to be a great way for visiting fans to get into the spirit of Notre Dame football. The Alumni Association also uses Football Fridays as a platform to share the great work happening on and around campus — which increasingly includes educational and operational sustainability. Through a multi-year partnership called ND for the Environment, the Alumni Association has moved to make these events “food waste free.” 

If you stop by, you will find student interns and staff members from the Office of Sustainability educating guests and families about why it’s important to think differently about their food choices, and how our food waste recycling system works. Sorting trash, non-consumable food and recyclables into separate bins at the waste station, in addition to maintaining outside recycle bins, ensures the capture of non-consumable food waste and clean recycling, diverting it from the landfill.

Thanks to Campus Dining staff members who service the food waste collection effort, for the first five home games waste ambassadors have been able to capture 675 pounds of food for the University’s Grind2Energy system, leading to carbon emissions avoidance of over 459 pounds — the equivalent of fully charging nearly 100,000 smartphones. All remaining consumable food from this event is collected by the student-run Food Rescue US program and donated to local charities. Additionally, more than 865 pounds of clean recycling have been recovered. 

Undergraduate student interns play a key role in this work. Dan Rottenborn, a junior student intern with the Office of Sustainability, shares his experience: “In my role as a waste ambassador, I have been inspired by the warm reaction I have received from fans and their enthusiasm to support a green cause. I am also struck by the impact our work has had on properly disposing of waste. Seeing the sheer amount of food waste and clean recycling we’ve been able to keep out of landfills and knowing that these items will be properly handled, either through recycling or Notre Dame’s Grind2Energy system for food waste, has been important to me.”

Dan Venetucci, a senior intern with the Office of Sustainability, also sees helping with the waste ambassador program as being very fulfilling. “I get to spread awareness and help the program continue to grow, as well as see a direct, tangible impact of my passion for sustainability on campus,” he says.

For more information on the Grind2Energy system and other sustainability-related campus initiatives, visit the Office of Sustainability at


Originally published by Donnetta McClellan at on November 07, 2019.