The Knights’ September football game against South Carolina might not have been a victory on the field, but University of Central Florida fans did help to make an environmental impact during the pre-game tailgate.

UCF participated in the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Game Day Challenge,” a friendly competition for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at their football games. During the challenge, schools track and report waste reductions and disposal data, which is used to rank the schools.

With an estimated 47,000 tailgaters at the Sept. 28 game, UCF placed 3rd nationally for collecting 17.82 tons of recycled goods and finished 4th in the greenhouse gas-reduction category.

For the challenge, the Student Government Association paired with UCF Recycles to distribute blue recycling bags with flyers attached that described what could be placed in the bags. The bags were passed out by student volunteers and gave tailgaters the resource to recycle while serving as an educational tool. Giveaways were handed out to tailgaters who handed in bags of recyclables.

A game day recycling center was established between Memory Mall and Parking Garage D across from the CFE Arena as a drop-off point. The spot received so much attention by tailgaters that it remained a presence for the rest of the season’s home games.

“Our goal is to create a culture or habit of recycling where students and tailgaters look for the blue recycle bags and recycle on their own,” said Julia Felter, SGA’s environment and sustainability specialist. “This experience proved that if the resources are provided, students will actively participate.”

This is the fifth year UCF has participated in the “Game Day Challenge.” During last year’s competition, UCF had a recycling rate of 25 percent. That number doubled this year to 57 percent.