From 2 Bins to 3: Composting at the World Rowing Championships

By UF, IFAS Blog

UF/IFAS agent Randall Penn and UF student volunteer Sophia Sanchez

UF/IFAS agent Randall Penn and UF student volunteer Sophia Sanchez

The last week of September was an important one for Sarasota Florida. It marked the first time the area was hosting a major sporting event, the World Rowing Championships. Over 40,000 were in attendance at the week long event, offering their support to the 900 athletes representing 70 counties.

UF/IFAS Extension played an important role in the 2017 World Rowing Championships. Extension staff and volunteers assisted in collecting food waste in the official UF composting collection bins placed around the venue. The project involved a team of composting volunteers assisting with the collection, separation of recycling and trash from the compost bins.  Focusing on the athlete, food carts and general public areas, the UF/IFAS composting team collected nearly 600 pounds of food waste at the event.

The food waste collected is processed in mulch-lined composting bins, specially constructed in the park’s maintenance area. The unique aspect of the composting project is that the food waste is collected and processed onsite, reducing unnecessary environmental impacts. Additionally, composted material resulting from the project will be reused within the park.  The food waste collection and diversion program is the first of its kind for organized rowing events.

This marked the third rowing event UF/IFAS has provided compost collection in 2017 (Florida State Youth Rowing Championships, US Rowing Nationals, and World Rowing Championships). Collectively, the 3 events have diverted over 1,000 pounds of food waste. The UF/IFAS waste reduction effort is part of a collaborative partnership between Sarasota County’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources and Solid Waste departments, Suncoast Aquatic and Nature Center Associates, Inc. (SANCA), and Nathan Benderson Park.

View the blog post here.

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Notre Dame Going Even Greener at Football Tailgates

Inside Tailgating
By Carroll Walton

2017.10.16-NewsFeed-Notre Dame-IMAGE

And by greener, we don’t mean the accent color to go along with Notre Dame’s traditional metallic gold and blue. We are talking about the environmentally-friendly practices the University of Notre Dame is implementing at its college football games this fall in a continued effort to be responsible with waste, and we here at Inside Tailgating like the sound of it.

College campuses, in many ways, are on the forefront of recycling efforts. The halls of my dorms at Duke University back in the early 1990s were where I first started the practice of recycling cans. Before that the only recycling we saw much of was at school newspaper drives and bottle-cap collections. We have come a long way! This latest report posted on the Notre Dame athletic site just underscores the kind of impact colleges can have by encouraging environmentally-friendly practices when they set the tone on football Saturdays.

Some of the highlights from what Notre Dame is doing include their efforts to replace seating in the lower bowl of Notre Dame Stadium with recycled or repurposed materials, using LED lighting to reduce power consumption by 60 percent, and the hands-on efforts by student groups to help tailgaters recycle. Notre Dame started its Game Day Recycling Program in 2008, but the school has expanded it this year to include handing out recycling and trash bags to every car entering tailgate lots, employing recycling push-carts in the lots for some hands-on help with the process, and sending out attendants into the lots to help educate fans on how and what they can recycle. Kudos to the Irish!

View the full story here.

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Post-game Show

Resource Recycling
By Michelle Lee Guiney

The nine waste sorts to date at Fenway Park in Boston have produced a total 56 percent landfill diversion rate, and one recent effort achieved 76 percent diversion.

The nine waste sorts to date at Fenway Park in Boston have produced a total 56 percent landfill diversion rate, and one recent effort achieved 76 percent diversion.

Each day, the United State generates a little under 1 million tons of waste, according to a report last year from the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF). Based on 2013 waste data, EREF estimated the U.S. recycles 21 percent of its discards, composts 6 percent and sends 9 percent to energy recovery, meaning the country incinerates or buries around 222 million tons of material annually.

Clearly, Americans need fresh pathways to keep materials out of the waste stream. And despite lacking sexy, high-tech appeal, there is one solution that can hit a grand slam when it comes to recovering a high percentage of recyclables: manual sortation at the hundreds of major sporting and entertainment events that take place around the U.S. daily.

Just ask facilities managers at Fenway Park, the historic home of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox. The team has been pushing into exciting territory on the waste issue since the summer of 2016 with its concessions partner Aramark Corporation as well as with Waste Management, the exclusive hauler for the Boston Red Sox, and G Force Waste Sorters. Together, these entities have worked to establish a system that employs sorting staff to separate recoverable materials from trash during stadium cleanup after select games and concerts held at Fenway.

Through the nine sorts that have occurred so far, the collaborators have sorted 31,057 pounds of trash and recovered 17,402 pounds for recycling and composting to yield a 56 percent overall landfill waste diversion rate for the sorted stream. The procedure has become increasingly efficient over time, and the approach can serve as a template for other venues around the country.

Eclipsing 75 percent diversion

To push forward the waste diversion program at Fenway Park, select games and concerts have been chosen over the last year to serve as pilot efforts. These pilot project sorts have allowed stakeholders to learn how to deal with logistical challenges, such as limited sorting space, complicated loading docking access, weather-related issues and coordinating needs when multiple events occur at the park simultaneously.

Not surprisingly, improvements have been implemented along the way, and one recent sort achieved a 76 percent landfill diversion rate for materials generated by event attendees. Jonathan Lister, senior director of Fenway Park Facilities Management and board member for G Force Waste Sorters, encapsulates the enthusiasm of all partners involved: “This is an All-Star team and post-game waste sorting is the MVP.”

How exactly does the operation unfold on days when the waste-sort team is deployed?

After the mass exodus from Fenway of roughly 40,000 fans, a massive cleanup project ensues. Aramark heads the army of permanent and temporary staff who work through the night to restore the venue to a clean condition. On the waste front, loads of collected trash are weighed and then dumped in a designated sorting area managed by G Force Waste Sorters.

Four to six sorters are assigned to six-foot-long tables and have multiple carts behind them for separating materials. Once carts are filled, sorters log the weight and material type of each cart and then proceed to the loading dock to empty the cart into the correct compactor. Around 20 sorters repeat this procedure throughout the evening, filling hundreds of carts until all trash is sorted. Clearly, it’s a tedious effort, but it has helped highlight just how much work it takes to ensure proper diversion of materials within a large event setting. And the process has the potential for big payoffs.

Venues like Fenway can easily accumulate 10 tons of trash alone in just a few hours. A rough calculation by G Force Waste Sorters has determined that if all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums across the country were able to divert 76 percent of their fan-generated waste for all their games, more than 18,000 tons of recyclable and organic material would be recovered annually.

Read the full story here.

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