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The US Open’s Reduced Footprint

By Colton Dirksen
September 9, 2010
File under: Business News, Business Profiles, Carbon Emissions, Consumer Awareness, Design & Innovation, Eco-Tourism, Green Practices

Photo Credit: Dysanovic, Flickr

In the USTA’s quest to green the US Open, great efforts were made in not only popularizing green choices (see yesterday’s blog), but in reducing the event’s footprint as well.

The green team, comprised of members from the USTA,  EcoEvolutions and the NRDC, worked together to identify goals for recycling, energy management, transportation, procurement, and awareness.

With event sustainability being an ever-moving target and plans not always going as expected (which is no surprise with 750,000 fans and 7,000 personnel), the team has remained open to modifying their strategy as they go along.

With this adaptability, they have been able to make some significant accomplishments in the last three years.

A few highlights,recycled-wilson-cont.jpg

  • Recycle approx 20,000 Wilson tennis ball cans and find another life, such as community/youth programs, for the 60,000 used tennis balls
  • Distribute general concession napkins that are made of 90% post-consumer waste: 2.4 million distributed
  • Use bio-based utensils, plates, etc and recover cooking oil for biodiesel fuel
  • Established a compost program in two kitchens and all restaurants
  • Fan Awareness: Mass transit promotion, tips and a PSA featuring Alec Baldwin

Learn more on the US Open sustainability accomplishments at the NRDC

Some helpful lessons gleaned from the Green Team:

  • Keep the process simple for employees:  They found that including gates and signs around the recycling containers was a critical step to prevent employees from accidently placing garbage in the containers
  • Keep the process simple for customers: In order to ramp up the recycling %, it was necessary to have a one-to-one ratio of recycling containers to garbage cans (and they couldn’t be more than 5 feet apart)
  • Use laziness to your advantage: Napkin dispensers, which only allow one napkin to be dispensed at a time, significantly dropped the napkin usage
  • Be adaptable: When tennis cans weren’t being recycled properly, the team didn’t try to force the new process, but adapted and gave the umpires large ball containers in which to bring the cans back after each match.
  • Upfront coordination is key: Half the battle for the team was being recognized as a ‘green representative’ by the 7,000 members on the staff.  A brief introduction to the staff upfront made their interactions thereafter much shorter and easier.  They found the staff was proud to talk the team about their composting successes, rather than feel they were being reprimanded.

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