Many of us watched Super Bowl LII, a showdown between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to the game, we read about second-string quarterback Nick Foles’s unlikely rise to the big game, Tom Brady’s persistent hand injury, and lingering tension between Vikings and Eagles fans. However, amongst the hype, one story will continue to impact us long after the final whistle: a collaboration to achieve a ‘zero waste’ game at US Bank Stadium. Rush2Recycle’s goal was to recover more than 90% of the waste generated during the game and send the remaining 10% to a waste-to-energy incineration plant. The project entailed:
- Three-bin collection systems for trash, recycling and composting
- Compostable service-ware, including cups, trays, straws and utensils
- Ambassadors to guide fans on waste disposal
- Hand-sorting the waste stream behind-the-scenes to recover what the public missed
Three weeks later, U.S. Bank Stadium, Pepsi Co, Aramark, and the NFL announced the final score – Rush2Recycle successfully recovered 91% of all the trash. Nearly 63 tons (enough to fill 4,500 bathtubs) of the 69 tons of gameday waste were recycled or donated for reuse (62%) and composted (29%). This high-profile project demonstrated what we can achieve with creativity, cooperation, and a little innovation. If a stadium full of almost 70,000 intense fans of mixed allegiance, hailing from all 50 states, and solely focused on the game can strive for zero waste, so can your business.
And, what better time to start than now?
Whether you’re motivated by committing to sustainability, complying with increasing state and local legislation, or streamlining pickups and saving money, here’s what you need to know in 2018 to score waste savings for your company:
1. Waste bill data builds a foundation for ways to save.
Combining waste audits with waste bill data can reveal many ways to save on your expenses and beyond. By capturing, paying, analyzing, and reporting waste bills, unnecessary fees can be identified, but more important, you’ll uncover opportunities to lower costs through reducing container sizes and pickup frequencies and increasing diversion. Why pay for services you’re not leveraging?
2. Get to know your waste in person.
While most people avoid dumpster diving, gleaning data through a waste audit is the foundation to increase not only sustainability, but also cost savings. Capturing qualitative and quantitative waste data enables businesses to build the case for waste reduction, identify new opportunities for recycling and waste programs, target training programs to maximize diversion, and create a baseline to measure improvement. For example, restaurants have discovered through waste audits how to better train staff on best-practice preparation to reduce food costs. When businesses are unable to perform a scientific waste audit, simply looking in the dumpster or talking to frontline staff can also provide valuable insight. And although it’s not required, during the majority of ENGIE Insight’s waste audits, our clients find value in joining us!
Learn more about the data you can drive from your waste in our upcoming webinar, “Garbage Whispering: Use Quantitative & Qualitative Data to Learn your Waste Story” on April 12th.
3. Compliance kickstarts action.
From California to New York, a growing number of cities and states are introducing regulations to increase recycling and composting programs. Regulations increase both awareness and access to these valuable programs. With more diversion comes less waste. This allows individual businesses to seize the opportunity adjust container size or pick-up frequencies, leading to significant cost savings and fee avoidance.
Like Rush2Recycle at US Bank Stadium, a successful waste program leverages every team member, from executive to intern.
The waste team at US Bank Stadium was equally unafraid to jump into their waste for a bigger cause. While detailed signage and easy collection containers encouraged fans to separate their own waste, the waste team hand-sorted improperly placed items to achieve perfection. Now that’s commitment!
Setting expectations, communicating progress towards your goal, and rewarding success, all contribute to bottom line savings and making progress on your company’s sustainability efforts. Zero waste is a journey, not a destination, so remember, playing the game is better than sitting on the sidelines.