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Trevion McGhaw and Thomas Welby sift through trash generated at a Tiger home game.

Trevion McGhaw, an industrial and manufacturing systems engineering major (at left), and Thomas Welby, a bioengineering student, sift through trash generated at a Tiger home game as part of a research project aimed at making recommendations for how to handle the organic trash left behind by football fans.

If a pair of engineering researchers have their way, the turf won’t be the only thing green about Memorial Stadium in the coming years.

Christine Costello, an assistant research professor of bioengineering, and Ronald McGarvey, industrial engineering assistant professor, currently are working on a project to estimate the percentage of organic waste from the total amount of waste generated at MU’s football stadium on game day. The goal eventually is to calculate how much organic waste is generated, as well as the characteristics of the waste.

Costello, McGarvey and their students currently are in the midst of collecting data after separating and sorting trash into three categories — trash, recyclables and organic waste — over the course of three MU games. After obtaining the total weight of the waste, they’ll be able to complete their calculations on the amount and characteristics of the organic waste.

“Ultimately, we’ll have a sense of the size of the organic waste stream exiting the university campus,” Costello said. “With this information, we’ll evaluate a minimum of six different disposal options. We will evaluate each option using life cycle energy, nutrient and greenhouse gas emissions as well as robust optimization techniques, which are used to help make reliable decisions in dynamic systems. And, of course, we’ll estimate the cost associated with each option.”

The goal is to have a report ready by the end of January and recommendations for disposal and treatment by next fall.

The project is what Costello termed “a subset of [a] larger vision,” occurring concurrently with projects by Alicia LaVute and Mike Burden of the MU Sustainability Office. Mark Morgan, professor in the Natural Resources, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, also is studying the effectiveness of signage in terms of getting fans to separate recyclable materials at the stadium.