Huge Crowds, Zero Waste at the Phoenix Open

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Scottsdale, golf tournament, zero-waste
Photo: Jennifer Berry, Earth911

Written by Michele Grossman, regional manager, Sustainability Services, Waste Management

This Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, half a million spectators will flock to the TPC of Scottsdale to attend this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, also known as professional golf’s “Greenest Show on Grass.” It will be the tournament’s 78th year, and its “greenest” yet.

When Waste Management first took over as the title sponsor of the Phoenix Open in 2010, they established a precedent for sustainability, recycling and diverting 62 percent of the waste produced that year. In 2012, Waste Management launched its “Zero Waste Challenge” and diverted more than 97 percent of waste generated by the tournament from landfills.

The 2012 tournament reduced, recovered and recycled a greater percentage of waste than any other major sporting event and was the first-ever major sporting event not to use trash receptacles. Instead, organizers provided only recycling and composting bins to event guests. These recycling, composting and alternative fuel efforts conserved a lot of natural resources and energy, including:

  • 1,149 mature trees
  • 394,310 gallons of water
  • 574,856 kilowatt-hours of electricity
  • 843 cubic yards of landfill airspace
  • 582 metric tons (MTCO2E) of greenhouse gas emissions

This year, Waste Management plans to continue to strive for zero waste by diverting 100 percent of the waste produced by players, fans and vendors at the tournament from the landfill into recycling and composting facilities.

You read that right – 100 percent.

How is it possible that with more than 500,000 spectators generating waste over a week-long tournament there won’t be nearly any waste sent to a landfill? It’s a team effort: Waste Management will be using a variety of sustainability tactics to account for every type of potential waste. Following are a few examples of what’s in store for tournament-goers this year:

No trash receptacles: Like 2012, there will be no trash receptacles along the course – recycling bins and compost bins only

Recycling Ambassadors: 1,000 Recycling Ambassadors will educate tournament guests and facilitate proper recycling among tournament guests

Renewable energy: Since 2011, tournament organizers have purchased 100% renewable energy from the local utility, so everything that’s plugged in is using renewable energy, including all golf carts.

Vendor education: The WM Sustainability Services team will educate vendors in advance and throughout the tournament to help them comply with sustainable practices.

Guest education: Videos shown on buses, leaderboards and signage throughout the course will educate tournament guests about recycling and composting best-practices.

Greywater: Port-o-lets will use greywater; treated waste water from the kitchens and sinks on the course.

Solar-powered compactors: 60 solar-powered compactors will collect recycling and compost, allowing for fewer pickups from service collectors.

Compressed Natural Gas trucks: Five Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) trucks will transport recycling and compost from the tournament, reducing emissions.

Charitable contributions: Through initiatives like the “Going for the Green” contest on the 16th hole and the “Green Out” on Saturday, February 2, Waste Management and the Waste Management Phoenix Open will make charitable contributions to Keep America Beautiful, Keep Phoenix Beautiful and Arizona Forward.

As in previous years, Waste Management hopes that this tournament not only reduces its own environmental footprint, but that it also serves as an example of sustainable practices for other major sporting events. Maybe someday we’ll see events across the country using only recycling and composting instead of “trash” cans and other impactful sustainability initiatives. For now, we look forward to educating golf fans and making a difference at this year’s Greenest Show on Grass.

  • Golf Koolit

    Since the Phoenix Open is a great tournament of all time the

    Huge Crowds there is not a big deal at all and the Zero Waste there is also very reliable also. I think this is such a great thing to be witness about.