One might think that a small private school like Butler University — where the basketball arena can seat 2.5 times the undergraduate enrollment — might be behind the times when it comes to its recycling program. But, that is simply not the case. Greener operations have become a chief initiative in recent years on the 295-acre campus in Indianapolis. Butler has outstanding recycling programs across the board, ranging from the collection of paper, plastic containers, aluminum cans and cardboard, to extensive construction-project recycling efforts. In addition, all buildings constructed on campus since 2010 have been green certified. The university has a designated engineer who makes sure all green projects are done correctly and all recycling efforts are executed properly. That brings us to the Hinkle Fieldhouse, home of the Bulldogs basketball team. Butler has played the Cinderella role in the NCAA postseason more than once, and in basketball-obsessed Indiana, winning equals people in the seats. When the arena was built in 1928, it was the largest basketball arena in the U.S., a title it held onto for 22 years. Multiple renovations in recent decades have reduced the capacity from 15,000 to its present-day 10,000 seats, but that modernization also presented an opportunity to achieve recycling goals easier. Christopher Pierle is the Hinkle Fieldhouse’s Crew Supervisor, and as such, he is tasked with not only helping to facilitate a recycling plan at the arena, but also collecting the recyclables each home game. “Here at Hinkle, we have approximately 30 specially marked custom recycling containers spread out all around for collection of plastic drink bottles and aluminum cans,” Pierle explains. “We received these containers — which are [located across] campus as well — via a grant in 2010/11.” Hinkle Fieldhouse is also home to about 30 paper-recycling containers in the arena office areas and in concourses. Paper products are perhaps the easiest items to recycle at Hinkle and throughout Butler’s campus thanks to a network of drop-off points. “Our Fieldhouse crew separates cardboard daily when collecting trash,” Pierle says. “We have dumpsters for regular trash, and another for cardboard and plastic and aluminum combined, via [local hauler] Ray’s Trash and Recycling Service. For cardboard recycling, we have a huge compactor stationed at our Facilities Management building. In addition, we have Abitibi dumpsters (one at Hinkle and several on campus) to deposit paper only for recycling.” No matter how the Bulldogs fare on the court, Pierle and his team get to work on clean-up after the final buzzer sounds. They recycle as many plastic drink containers and as much paper and cardboard as possible in the short recovery time they are allotted, but still, more help is needed. As Pierle sees it, the more hands collecting recyclables, the better. “Myself and four staff members clean facilities after athletic events,” Pierle says. “We are working with the Student Government Association to have volunteers help after events to collect recyclables. We had 11 sell-outs last season. We expect the same or more this season.”
Rebound and Recycle: Greening the Game at Butler
Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, which seats 10,000, aims to take the next steps toward meeting its recycling goals.