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News & Press: Industry News

Sustainability in Action: The Greenest Show on the Grass:Case Study of Waste Management Phoenix Open

Wednesday, June 13, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Amanda Ulbrich
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GMIC Sustainability in Action Webinar News Capsule

"The greenest show on grass”
How the Phoenix Open became a green events success story


Large-scale events generate mass quantities of waste, and the Phoenix Open Golf Tournament is no exception. Its thousands of attendees generate hundreds of tons of waste each year. But Michele Grossman’s sustainable waste management strategy for the tournament proves that transparent communication and solid support from stakeholders set up green events for success.

Grossman, a senior sustainability consultant with Waste Management Sustainability Services, helps plan and execute waste-management logistics for the Phoenix Open, a tournament on the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) tour that takes place each February in Scottsdale, Arizona. During the June 2012 edition of the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) monthly webinar series, Grossman shared strategies for sustainably managing tournament waste.

With more than half a million attendees in less than one week, this year’s Phoenix Open generated 374tons of waste. But Grossman’s waste management plan ensured that 97% of that waste was diverted from the landfill, and 82% was recovered.

Through an extensive strategic communication process that broke down large-scale waste management tactics into small, workable steps, Grossman marshalled the support of hundreds of stakeholders. Volunteers, local university students, community group members, tournament vendors, and the operations team all played a role in conserving energy and reducing waste at the tournament.

Grossman’s waste management strategy featured innovations like using solar-powered compactors for recycling and compost. A team of volunteer Recycling Ambassadors helped tournament attendees dispose of compostables and recyclables on the tournament grounds—where no garbage cans were onsite. A water conservation initiative pumped gray-water from catering services into the toilet service, so water was used twice.

The goal of volunteers, vendors, and operators was to be the "greenest show on grass,” Grossman said. Efforts were made to communicate the goal clearly to everyone involved. Strong communication and stakeholder buy-in were crucial to the success of the Phoenix Open’s green goals.

"Half a million people and no garbage cans? That’s frightening,” Grossman said. "But we were really pleased with the outcome. You can make a very large impact if you ensure you’re engaging everyone who’s involved in the event, helping everyone to feel like they’re part of the process and a part of the success.”

News capsules written by the Conference Publishers