Going Zero Waste

In a world where people are constantly wasting materials, energy, water, and food, there are some extraordinary companies that strive to make a difference by reducing their footprint on Earth. By no surprise, one company that does this is Waste Management. Waste Management is a leading provider of waste management services in the United States. They provide services like trash collection/disposal and renewable energy generation. They are the current sponsor of the Phoenix Open, a PGA Tour golf tournament played every year in Phoenix, Arizona. For the past three years, zero waste from the tournament has been sent to a landfill. This fact is impressive because the Phoenix Open is the largest tournament in terms of weekly (6 days) attendance. Last year, over 650,000 people attended giving a total attendance of 1,838,167 for the past three years. This event is the largest verified zero waste event in the world.

Picture1

The picture shows where all the tournament’s waste went. They were able to achieve their goal several different ways.  One of the biggest ways is that there are no trash cans on the golf course, only recycling and composting bins. Vendors sign a Zero Waste Challenge Participation Agreement which only allows the vendors to use materials that are locally recyclable, compostable, or reusable. Waste Management also educates the fans on proper recycling. Over 200 volunteers are trained to help educate the fans. The on-course signage displaying vendors and tournament sponsors are reused year after year until they are no longer usable; then they are recycled. Not only does the tournament divert waste like plastics, they also divert their food waste. Over 30,000 pounds of unused, perishable food is donated locally to a food bank.

Not only does Waste Management divert all the tournament’s waste, they also take measures to conserve water and use electricity from renewable resources. In 2015, the Phoenix Open used approximately 47,340 gallons of fresh water, which was 28,980 fewer gallons than 2014. Most of the water consumed was in sales of bottled water (24,996 gallons). Hand sanitizing stations and portable toilets are used in place of traditional sinks and toilets to conserve water. In terms of renewable energy, solar power is used to power Waste Management’s hospitality tent and 100% of the electricity used by the tournament has been provided by renewable energy since 2011.

Picture

With over 1,838,167 people being waste free for a golf tournament, why are we not able to reduce the amount of waste we use in our daily lives? This challenge is done on a small scale when compared to the United States or even individual states, but could be implemented with larger venues like the Phoenix Open, NFL games, NCAA games, and many other sports and concerts. If more communities and smaller cities implemented plans to achieve zero waste, our planet would be much cleaner. Currently, no cities are zero waste, but several are on their way. An example would be Fort Collins, Colorado. In 2014, they were able to divert 68.4% and have a goal to reach zero waste by 2030. Their population as of 2016 was 164,207 people, which makes it the 4th largest city in the state. Fort Collins shows that most waste can be diverted, so why not strive to be like them? Do you think local governments should implement laws and policies to achieve the goal of zero waste? If not, how could the goal of zero waste be achieved throughout the United States?

 

Sources:

https://wmphoenixopen.com/media-info/about-waste-management/

https://wmphoenixopen.com/spectator-info/statistics-and-records-book/statistics-and-records-book-attendance-history/

http://www.wm.com/thinkgreen/wmphoenix-open.jsp

http://www.fcgov.com/zerowaste/

Advertisements

28 thoughts on “Going Zero Waste

  1. This is super cool! I like the idea of starting out smaller; pinpointing one event and reorganizing its structure to be able to achieve zero waste. I think a big thing that Waste Management does that adds to their success in this event, is that they ask others to comply with their standards. Their vendors are told to only use locally recyclable/compostable materials, and trashcans are unavailable at the event. The people attending the event are also aware of WM’s standards and are asked to comply, and are even educated on why these standards are in place. I think this stance of ownership is a huge part of their success and should be copied elsewhere (maybe UGA football games??)

    Like

  2. I like this a lot! and it seems like there aren’t many real constraints with it. It demonstrates that the root cause of improperly managed landfill waste is the culture of the community. If more people realized that it was possible to achieve such a great environmental outcome without sacrificing any personal needs, more people would support the zero waste initiative. However, too commonly recycling and composting practice is seen as a hindrance to popular culture’s desires. Top management of the organizations for these events should follow the tournament’s lead and begin to make this happen. It not only greatly decreases the impact of the event but it is a great way to promote and educate the accessibility to sustainable practice to many diverse individuals!

    Like

  3. I love this real life example of a zero waste event. This shows that with the right motivation and dedication we can make a significant change in our environment and limit the waste done to the environment. Major sporting events have got play a major impact in the waste of the world, and if this impact was limited the world would be much cleaner. If the society sacrifices convenience there is no telling what major outcomes can be achieved.

    Like

  4. I think for smaller cities where it is more feasible to make this program a norm, local governments could definitely bring about policies that get this idea running. On the other hand, it is difficult for larger, more complex cities because you just have so many different stakeholders in the equation. The best approach for these cities would be to continue introducing the program through large public events such as the golf tournament mentioned in the blog post. Even if the city has no intentions on becoming a zero waste city, at the end of the day you would have educated a great number of participants and helped reduce a good portion of waste that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill after the event. There is more to the process of getting whole cities to the point of zero waste. This can be a program that contributes to getting the word out to the public, but it is only the surface of a multilayer solution.

    Like

  5. I love that Waste Management and the PGA Golf Tournament were able to pull off such a huge zero waste event! I think that in general, as a country it would be great for us to adopt a zero waste mindset when thinking about the things we use day to day and how we dispose of them. I think that the major reason why waste management was able to achieve their zero waste goal was that they gave no other choice. When given an option, people tend to choose whatever is most convenient for them. In this case, it was most convenient for people to recycle and compost and the choice to throw something away was eliminated, but that is not always the case. I believe that the key to working towards zero waste is to make recycling, composting, reusing and reducing just as easy as throwing something away.

    Like

  6. I love seeing stories like this, particularly becuase I am a big sports fan. I think this proves that if we take initiative on the front end (i.e making the vendors sign the Zero Waste Challenge Participation Agreement), reusing and recycling can be much easier and more effective. This tournament not only serves as a model for other events, but I imagine it is a very cool expereince for the players and fans, and that they leave educated and inspired to recycle and teach others to recycle too. It would be great to see the PGA set some sort of standard for the rest of their tournaments on the amount of waste they can landfill. It has proven to be feasible at one of its largest events, so I don’t see any reason as to why it can’t be done, even if its not completely a zero waste tournament, at all of the other venues. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  7. I think the golf tournament is a great example for many other events and communities to build off of. I feel like this sort of thing feels so out of reach to society so to be able to bring over a million people together and pull off “zero waste” is a huge eye-opener to society. Hopefully more and more events will fall into this suit and spread the fact that this is an reachable goal. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  8. It is fascinating to hear of such a large event take the initiative in shifting over to zero waste. WM utilized its leverage as the sponsor of the Phoenix Open to usher in a positive change in a way that hopefully we might be able to see more of in the coming years. I would like to think that smaller cities such as the Ft. Collins, CO case can help ease in the trend in the public sphere rather than just relying on big companies to force it on the public at some point (the market could use a little push, but we don’t want to wait around for it to act). Also, I have read about waste-to-energy having some nasty by-products that are generally taken care of due to technologies that have prevailed to conform to the Clean Air Act. So, if only 10% of waste diverted from landfills is being burned is this due to a waste quality issue, economic hindrances (for either the plant or transport of the waste), or some other factor?

    Like

  9. I had no idea that such an event did this! This was really cool and the fact that it works is even better. I do believe that starting out small is a good idea to ensure that things can be done and that we can gradually grow bigger without collapse to the system. The Phoenix Open is a prime example that 0 waste can be achieved and I do believe laws and policies should be put into place to help cities start to focus more on 0 waste and set achievable goals for us to head in that direction.

    Like

  10. I think that this zero waste event was definitely an eye opener, and it is attractive in the way that it was an event that housed all types of people. If more events had this approach, I feel that it would be an excellent way to spread awareness of low to zero waste. Similar to what Jasmine said, this concept would even be a great way to target younger generations such as music festivals, football games, etc. Not pointing any fingers as it also happens anywhere on campus, but particularly driving down Milledge after a game day is pretty discouraging with all of the trash everywhere- I know that it always gets picked up, not saying it’s just trashed and stays there I am just suggesting that it is astonishing how much trash a small scale event can produce. I have always felt that if we can target young generations, even down to the elementary school level, we could make low waste efforts a lifestyle rather than a lifestyle change.

    Like

  11. The Phoenix open is a really good example of a large group of people working together to achieve zero waste. As for the government and communities to strive for a zero waste goal, one thing will have to significantly change to make this even reasonable feasible, and that is the people. Policies will have to be implemented by no other than the politicians which in turn only support what the majority of the people ( that vote for them) want. For any change to happen (for anything), the public will have to support the idea. Once the public see’s that it is feasible and see the benefits of of zero waste they could be on board to get the ball rolling, which makes providing info to the public (like this article) that much more important.

    Like

  12. That’s really cool! I had no idea that the Phoenix open has a zero waste initiative. I think this is a good example that other large events such as concerts and other sporting events should follow. Not only can large events do it, but I think this is something individuals should incorporate to their daily lives. I think awareness of this event and maybe incentives from the government would encourage people to do the same.

    Like

  13. This reminds me of a music festival I went to in August called Wildwood Revival. None of the vendors there were allowed to serve out of plastic cups or sell plastic water bottles. You either had to bring your own reusable cup or they sold cups at the festival. It was so easy and the grounds always seem to stay so clean because there wasn’t a whole lot of trash to throw away. Even though it may not have been zero waste certified, I think small steps like this could be implemented easily at so many events.

    Like

  14. Like many others, I think that it is amazing that they were able to do this. If were able to do something like there here at UGA I think it would be amazing. Doing something like this even if only on games days could be beneficial for not only UGA but also Athens.

    Like

  15. This is a great example of how any “system” or population can be 100% sustainable with proper planning and execution. I believe that if states were to move in this direction, small scale regulations would need to be tested first. In some cases, I feel that individual states should focus on one area where the largest impact could be achieved. For example if a certain state uses an abnormal amount of water, start with improving water conservation techniques before addressing every issue at once. The key for success, at least in the Zero-Waste Tournament, is that the entire system was broken down and all variables were accounted for. This is what will making implementing policies a challenge at the state level.

    Like

  16. I think this is a great explanation of what “zero waste” really means. I think a lot of people think that it is as simple as recycling all trash, but there is a lot more “waste” than just trash. It is an amazing example that, even though zero waste is more difficult than a lot of people think, it IS very possible.

    Like

  17. A lot of what is considered waste can actually be used in the state that it is currently in. This requires zero energy input and therefore makes it almost less then zero waste because it is getting several uses. If you look at it this way then if we consider all the waste as a whole then these types of waste can make up for the waste that we can not prevent and maybe get us to zero waste.

    Like

  18. This is very interesting I am impressed they were able to do it with a large event like that. I think the best way to increase zero waste initiatives is through education. Most people I think want to recycle and produce less waste but they need a model they can use to say this is how it should be done. One concern I have about this is what the quality of the recyclables were like. Hopefully they were high quality but often times recyclables are dirty with food waste and a portion end up getting sent directly to the landfill from the recycling facility. This problem can be addressed with further education though and live up to the zero waste goal.

    Like

  19. I was not aware of the zero waste movement, let alone how far along we’ve come in the movement. I’ve always thought all trash goes to a landfill or an incinerator, so it is great to hear of the big steps that are being taken by companies like Waste Management. I think it is good for them to start out small, like with the Phoenix Open, as a sort of proof of concept. Very interested in seeing how soon this all could get scaled up to city size and beyond.

    Like

    1. Zero waste is an amazing feat, and to see this example is really cool! As you stated in the post, if more events could hop on this train, the patrons would take note and potentially take this mindset home with them. Maybe seeing that a large event can be zero waste would inspire people to adopt this into their everyday life.

      Like

  20. I’m glad to see a positive change. I feel like if one company can achieve this during one of the largest tournaments in the world than there is hope for the rest of us. Jobs can start becoming zero waste with their employees as well as schools. I feel that the transition to make factories zero waste may be impossible but we can definitely cut down the waste significantly. I’m curious to see what other plans this company has in store.

    Like

  21. I do think that policies should be enacted to help work toward a goal of zero waste. Even if not on a city sized scale, implementing zero waste goals on campuses or at sporting events, like you mentioned, would be a big step. I feel as though a goal like this would be very achievable for football stadiums such as Sanford Stadium and the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. These individual venues, like the Phoenix Open could serve as models for large scale implementation in the future.

    Like

  22. This was a great blog post! I am a big golf fan and the Phoenix Open is always one of the most fun to watch. The 16th hole which is set up like a stadium, is known to be the wildest hole in golf with fans allowed to shout, cheer, and do anything wild that you normally wouldn’t see at a golf tournament. If all of this can be achieved at a zero waste tournament, then I see no reason why it can’t be done elsewhere. I believe one of the challenges with going zero waste is not only the fact that you have to change all the materials you use to recyclable materials but many people think by switching to alternatives you have to “give something up”. This is a false statement as proven by this golf tournament. If they can achieve the craziest hole in golf with a zero waste tournament, than any other venue can do the same.

    Like

  23. This is amazing. I think this just goes to show if we can enough, and make enough of an effort, we can create a clean society. We are so close to this being implemented nationwide. If we can educate more people, then they will care enough to make a difference.

    Like

  24. Very cool! I actually have worked with a local outlets of Waste Mangement and Republic Services. I am a falconer so I actually helped out on green abatement programs to get rid of pests (like pigeons). There have been some very cool sustainability initiatives– for example, Republic will hire goats as lawn mowers for certain unused plots of land. To me it is very interesting that these waste management companies are in fact the ones leading and encouraging great environmental initiatives.

    Side note, I am disconcerted by football games here at the University of Georgia. Last home game, I recall leaving and seeing thousands of half empty water bottles strewn carelessly about. Beyond the concept of recycling, I am angered by people’s refusal to clean up after themselves. If anything is discouraging, it is this attitude of “who cares?”

    Like

  25. I think it is incredible that Waste Management has found a way to effectively reduce and nearly eliminate the waste that is buried in a landfill. Alternative uses for waste can be promoted through government taxation on trash bins in residential areas, as well as discount incentives that are offered through government subsidies that can be in the form of a direct discount or a tax write-off for only having recycling bins for different materials.

    Like

  26. Its trendy in some more left leaning areas to have sustainable efforts or zero waste- regardless of whether it actually is sustainable. I think this attitude pushes business and politicians to take action! People may not always care about the environment, but I think many people (especially with children) deeply care about their health and if we more attention to how health and the environment are connected – then more support! Gotta get those mommas on board!

    Like

  27. I love this post! I would not have known about it otherwise. I think it is really smart to focus zero-wast initiatives on large events, because often times they create just as much waste as a city or even more. For example, in Athens, game days generate basically the same amount of waste that the city of Athens generates during the normal year.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s