CHARLOTTE – Tailgaters had tons of fun in and around Bank of America Stadium this past season, and in the process they helped collect tons of recyclable material.
The recycling initiative, spearheaded by the Panthers and Keep Mecklenburg Beautiful, collected a record 45.35 tons in its sixth season. Combined with the 83.28 tons of recycling and food waste gathered inside the stadium, a record 128.63 tons of material was collected during the 2014 season.
"The Panthers have had a recycling program since 1997 that we started inside the stadium because it was the right thing to do," director of stadium operations Scott Paul said. "We continue to look for ways to improve the program. Five years ago, we were approached by (executive director) Jake Wilson at Keep Mecklenburg Beautiful about a program in parking lots for tailgaters.
"We put together a team from Bojangles, the Panthers, Center City Partners and the City of Charlotte Solid Waste, and we got buy-in from parking lot operators surrounding the stadium. The program has been very well received."
Paul said the collaborative effort has been embraced by everyone involved, including Panthers fans themselves.
"We have terrific fans that come to Bank of America Stadium and a dedicated group of folks that have worked together to put this program in place," Paul said. "Our fans have bought into the recycling program at the parking lots around the stadium so much so that they now approach our volunteers to ask for the yellow Bojangles recycling bag.
"We continue to see growth in the recycling program outside the stadium as our volunteers continue to bring awareness to the program in these parking lots. Inside the stadium, we have a dedicated staff of people that get every piece of recyclable material up before we begin picking up the trash."
Bojangles, in addition to recycling bags, gave gift cards to tailgaters and parking attendants that were spotted recycling. The program's success depends heavily on volunteers, which numbered 154 for the season.