The PGA TOUR’s Biggest Event Is
Also the Greenest
The goal is ambitious: host more than a half million spectators at a week-long athletic event while producing zero waste. For this event, “waste” is not just solid waste, but it includes wasted natural resources such as water, energy and carbon. Using internationally recognized methodologies and frameworks from ISO 20121 Sustainable Event Management and the Global Reporting Initiative, we continuously achieve outstanding success that is verified by third parties.
UL Environment has verified our claims with their Zero Waste to Landfill Operations with 10 percent incineration with energy recovery validation. We received the Council for Responsible Sport’s highest level of certification for our sustainability initiatives: Evergreen. For the last six years and the next nine years, the Waste Management Phoenix Open (WMPO) in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a platform to showcase best practices and innovation in sustainable sport, which easily transfer to our customers’ businesses and even their personal lives.
In 2013 we established a zero waste challenge for WMPO. It has been the first sporting event of its kind to reach such an ambitious sustainability objective – earning the description “The Greenest Show on Grass.” In 2015, for the third consecutive year, we achieved our “zero waste” goal, diverting all 444 tons of waste material from landfill to recycling, composting, energy generation and charitable donations. In 2015 we continued to improve on all of our sustainability initiatives as we moved from Council for Responsible Sport Gold Certification to Evergreen – the largest event to achieve this level of certification and also the only golf tournament.
Zero-waste success requires a well-thought-out, holistic approach to every aspect of tournament operations – from the deployment of signage to the management of food and beverage operations to the collection and environmentally responsible handling of waste materials. In place of trash receptacles, more than 6,000 recycling and composting bins were deployed throughout the course. Once they were removed from the event site, waste streams were carefully scrutinized, with materials sorted using state-of-the-art optical sensing equipment. After sorting, recyclables were baled and food-related waste was sent to a nearby compost facility. More than 30,000 pounds of unused perishable food was donated to local nonprofits. We are committed to transparency and third-party review, and our zero-waste results were validated by two outside parties: UL and the Council for Responsible Sport. UL’s report noted that in 2015 the WMPO continued to improve on its methods of diversion while achieving “Zero Waste to Landfill Operations with 10 percent incineration with energy recovery.” Indeed, in 2015 use of waste-to-energy was 9.1 percent.
In addition to waste diversion, water conservation is another critical priority at the WMPO, which is located in a Southwest desert community where water is considered a scarce resource. At the 2015 event, fresh water usage was reduced by almost 29,000 gallons compared with the previous year. An initiative to reuse graywater from cooking and cleaning in portable toilets collected a record 6,100 gallons for reuse. We have also launched the WMPO Water Campaign with the nonprofit organization Change the Course (changethecourse.us), a first-of-its-kind water sustainability campaign that supports water flow restoration projects in Northern Arizona’s Verde River and other rivers that extend from the Colorado River Basin. Using social media, the WMPO encouraged tournament attendees and followers to pledge to conserve water in their daily lives. One pledge equates to restoring 1,000 gallons of water back into the Colorado River Basin. To date, WMPO has supported the restoration of more than 35 million gallons.