BioCycle September 2012, Vol. 53, No. 9, p. 6
Track Town USA Repeats Sustainability Success
Eugene, Oregon, is known as Track Town, USA, partly because it is the birthplace of athletic shoe giant Nike. Now that the city has hosted the U.S. Track & Field Olympic trials twice in a row (2008 and 2012), that moniker may begin to stick for a different reason. Both times when it made a bid to play host, the Oregon Track Club promised the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Track & Field (the national governing body for the sport) that it would organize a sustainable event. And each time, the community delivered at the finish line. In fact, the experiences proved to be so successful, and the lessons learned so profound, that TrackTown USA — the consortium group that formed to host the events — is now helping the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) bolster its sustainability program for events across the U.S.
“This year, we met roughly a 76 percent diversion rate for a 9-day event that had more than 25,000 visitors daily,” says Ethan Nelson, Eugene’s solid waste and green building program manager. (In 2008, a 72 percent diversion rate was achieved.) “We counted pre-event construction waste, during-event waste/recycling and post-event tear down in the calculation,” says Nelson. “All the work was done by the event garbage hauler, Sanipac. They followed the process required for U.S. Green Building Council LEED projects, which is to weigh the box of C&D material, hand-sort for materials that have local market value and give an estimate on the percentage of material diverted. For commingled material, it gets weighed and sent to the materials recovery facility; compostables are weighed and sent to the local composter, Rexius, and the trash is weighed and sent to the landfill.”
For 2012, a new campaign was created called We Can!, which was integrated into all aspects of the event. This included signage throughout the venue, on the carts, green team volunteer T-shirts, table toppers, and a video that ran in-stadium just prior to the start of the meet each day, all designed to help spectators understand the benefits of recycling and composting. The “We Can” campaign dovetailed nicely with the city’s ongoing “Love Food Not Waste” (LFNW) campaign connecting the municipality, local waste haulers, commercial composters and food-related businesses to divert food waste. The goal for the LFNW program is to annually divert 3,200 tons of the total 10,000 tons of food waste produced by commercial generators in Eugene. Besides moving the sustainability message forward on the national front by working with the U.S. Olympic Committee, TrackTown USA is also hoping to host the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials. “We want to give them more reasons to say ‘yes’ than ‘no,” says Nelson.
For more information, go to www.gotracktownusa.com/sustainability.
College Football Fans Compete To Recycle
The gridiron just got greener thanks to the Game Day Challenge, a national competition pitting schools against each other to see which one can become the powerhouse in waste reduction and recycling. The 2012 contest will be coadministered by College & University Recycling Coalition (CURC), Keep America Beautiful (KAB) and RecycleMania, Inc., with support from the U.S. EPA. Any U.S.-based college or university with a football program may enter. Schools choose a home game, sign up with the Challenge and promote waste reduction and recycling at the game. Following the game, all waste and recycling is collected and measured. Waste and recycling numbers as well as game attendance are reported to the program and used to rank schools in several categories. These include: Least amount of waste generated per attendee; Greatest greenhouse gas reductions (from diverting waste); Highest per capita recycling; Highest per capita organics recovery (food donation and composting); and Highest combined recycling and composting rate. Last year, 75 participating schools diverted a collective half a million pounds of game-day waste from the landfill. Register for the Game Day Challenge: http://gamedaychallenge.org
UK’S Renewable Energy Association Integrates Organics Recycling Group
After a decisive vote by its members in early September, the Association for Organics Recycling (AfOR) in the United Kingdom will integrate into the Renewable Energy Association (REA). The process of combining AfOR and the REA will be completed by the end of 2012. AfOR was founded as The Composting Association in 1994. It changed its name in 2008 to reflect the diversification of its members. It owns and manages the compost quality standard PAS 100, and also manages on behalf of Din Certco the compostable packaging standard EN 13432. AfOR’s Managing Director Jeremy Jacobs will become the REA’s Technical Director. AfOR’s certification activities, covering compost and biodegradable packaging, will move to the REA’s wholly owned subsidiary Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd (REAL). AfOR staff and REAL have already been working together for two years on the Biofertilizer and Green Gas Certification Schemes. In addition, AfOR’s technical assistance service will continue as the REA Organics Recycling Group, and be responsible for assisting members with inquiries concerning quality standards for compost and digestate; the collection, treatment and use of biodegradable resources; permitting and planning; compostable packaging; and any other subject relating to the treatment of biodegradable resources.
“The scientific and technical expertise of the AfOR staff will greatly enhance the REA’s advocacy on behalf of the organic waste-to-energy sector,” says REA Chairman Martin Wright. Adds Jeremy Jacobs: “We chose to merge with the REA because many of our members are increasingly active in anaerobic digestion and the supply of renewable fuels. And our certification activity has natural synergies with the two existing biogas certification schemes run by REAL.”
Quest For Less Helps Teachers Talk Trash
Grade K-8 teachers have solid support in the U.S. EPA’s Quest for Less program, which provides hands-on lessons and activities, enrichment ideas, journal-writing assignments and other educational tools geared toward preventing and reusing waste. The program is divided into learning units: At the Source, Waste Management and Putting it All Together, with chapters on Natural Resources, Products, Waste (Unit 1); Source Reduction, Recycling, Composting, Landfills and Combustion (Unit 2); and Waste in Review (Unit 3). A multidisciplinary focus includes math, science, art, social studies, language arts and health. The Quest for Less program is designed to be used as part of an existing curriculum and to create special units on the environment. www.epa.gov/osw/education/quest
Ohio State University Expands Organics Recycling
Since February 2010, The Ohio State University Sustainability Coordinator Corey Hawkey has worked to expand and enhance the institution’s recycling program, including diversion of food residuals from campus cafeterias, the 102,329-seat Ohio Stadium and for one-time events — for which the school has developed a Zero Waste Event Service. Food scraps go to one of two local composters — Price Farms Organics takes care of the stadium and whatever else gets composted goes to Ohio Mulch — or to a nearby anaerobic digester (AD) designed, built, owned and operated by quasar energy group in partnership with Kurtz Bros., Inc., a landscaping and organics recycling company. “This is a facility-by-facility decision,” says Hawkey. “If the food is chopped or macerated, then we send it to the digester; if it’s regular food scraps, then we send it to composting.” Some newer campus facilities have been built to include food waste processing equipment from Hobart, he says, noting that such strategies are an excellent way to garner LEED points for new construction. Most of the food scraps and pulped materials are stored in 65-gallon toters until they are collected for processing. To date, about 238 tons of organics have been sent to the digester and about 1,400 tons have been sent to the two composting facilities.
Total trash produced on campus is 11,765 tons/year, compared to a 2004 baseline of 13,007 tons, down 9.6 percent. Composting/recycling has more than doubled at 5,240 tons, compared to a 2004 baseline of 2,497 tons. The goal is to divert 90 percent of material from landfills by 2030. “As of 2011, we were at 30.8 percent,” says Hawkey. So far, Zero Waste Events have averaged 96 percent diversion. Average diversion at the stadium has been 75.2 percent with a high of 82.4 percent. “We are getting closer and closer,” he says of stadium diversion goals. “The suites are a bit of a challenge, but we have a program this season to help address that.” Ohio State is in the process of converting stadium serviceware to compostables and has already done so with nacho trays, coffee cups and stirrers and other items. Only preconsumer food waste is collected at campus dining halls, which utilize reusable serviceware as much as possible, as do Zero Waste Events. “When events need disposables, they use compostable,” adds Hawkey.