Implementing Zero Waste Programs At High-Traffic Facilities

Once the Zero Waste program details were hashed out, it was time for implementation. In Spring 2013, Brown and his team began piloting the Zero Waste program. It was launched in one of their smaller, contained sporting venues on campus, where they could control the materials being disposed.

During the baseball games at Packard Stadium, recycling and composting receptacles were set up throughout the grandstands and volunteer ambassadors of the program were on hand to help educate the sports fans on what and where to dispose specific items. 

“In compliance with our green purchasing requirements, the stadiums were already using food containers and cutlery that is either recyclable or corn-based,” says Lambert. In conjunction with the traditional stadium fare of hot dogs and nachos, it was no surprise that a Zero Waste initiative that included composting made sense.

“The fans were receptive and happy to help support our sustainability program,” adds Brown. “At one 3,000-person baseball game, we had an 81 percent diversion rate.”

Successes like this are what lead Brown and his team to promote the Zero Waste program on an even larger scale. During the 2013 football season, the program launched at Sun Devil Stadium, Frank Kush Field. The venue welcomes nearly 500,000 spectators each year, which means, if the program is a success, the environmental impact could be dramatic. 

In theory, the Zero Waste program is simple – nothing gets thrown in the trash. But educating a large group of people that don’t understand composting or aren’t accustomed to seeing the new receptacles is no small feat. 

“Asking people to sort their waste is a challenge,” says Lambert. “Change can be difficult, but it has to happen, which is why we have education programs in place.”

Radio and television announcements were developed and scheduled to air on campus networks. Signage accompanied recycling and composting receptacles. And educational videos were featured on scoreboards throughout sporting events. 

These messages communicate what the program is, why it has been implemented, and the types of products that should be dispensed appropriately in each receptacle. 

Following successful implementation in the sports stadiums, Zero Waste will be installed in six dining halls on campus.

“We plan to place the blue and green bins in food preparation and dish return stations to improve the diversion rates in these areas where compostable materials are likely high,” says Brown.

CORINNE ZUDONYI is the editor of Facility Cleaning Decisions magazine and CleanLink.com