Venues See Payoff From Waste Reduction

Waste Reduction

Below is a news summary by Ben Prevallet, an Entertainment Management student at Missouri State University.

(from Sports Business Journal, May 7, 2012) Reducing waste has taken over every major league venue in recent years, ranging from placing recycling cans next to trash cans in public areas to using compostable plates, cups, cup carriers, and straws. Venues have been building up data for the past couple of years and are now starting to see the financial benefits that come with waste deduction. EPA’s, Jean Schwab, stated at an annual conference for the Stadium Managers Association this year that, “Food is now the No. 1 material sent to landfills each year.”

According to a Food Recovery Pyramid designed by the EPA, the most effective way of reducing food waste is to rationally prepare less food. However, concessionaires and their team partners universally agree that this approach comes with a major risk that may outweigh the benefits including the possibility of running out of food during the game. Although the risk is high, many teams have donated leftover game-day food which has become a standard practice for years with a number of teams. Brad Mohr, the Cleveland Indians’ Assistant Director of Ballpark Operations, said their team saved more than $250,000 in total waste disposal costs from 2008-2011 as a result of operational and attitudinal changes. Mohr said that last year the garbage man came 99 times to Progressive Field, down from 254 “pulls” in 2007. Every garbage visit costs an average of $550, compared with the $7 it costs to pick up each compost tote. He mentioned that 2011 was the first year that the average visitor generated less than one pound of landfill-bound trash.

While most clubs are still in the early process of tracking the financial benefits of reducing their volume of waste, some in the industry are already thinking ahead to future cost savings. Many clubs are looking into using venue-generated compost for reuse as mulch and fertilizer. Including saving cooking oil to be converted on-site to power vehicles and other equipment. Every one of these efforts would not only increasingly cut haul-away costs, but diminish the venues’ carbon footprint.