Houston-based Waste Management will be sharing the expertise it’s gained running large-scale zero waste events by agreeing to be a certification evaluator for the Council for Responsible Sport.
The council offers certification for live sporting events and venues. Think of it as the LEED certification for sports. The council’s responsibility criteria include up to 61 credits in five different categories. Those include planning and communication, procurement, resource management, access and equity and community legacy. (Under resource management, energy, waste generation, recycling, carbon footprint and water conservation all factor in.) An event scoring 27 credits receives a Basic level certification. Additional credits enable events to be certified as Silver, Gold or Evergreen.
The council was formed in 2008 and has certified 120 events. Those primarily include running events, but the group has also certified golf events and even things like dodgeball tournaments, according to Executive Director Keith Peters.
Waste Management sponsors the largest zero waste event in the world, the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament. It received Gold certification in 2013 and that was raised to Evergreen in 2015. Peters called the event “off the charts” and says it receives every point available in the council’s criteria.
Under the new partnership, Waste Management’s Sustainability Services team will become the primary on-the-ground evaluators for events applying for council certification in 2016.
“Knowing they value they put on it, we went to them and asked them to be a third-party evaluator, Peter says. “It complements what we were doing and addresses some shortcomings.”
Up to now the council has had a somewhat ad hoc approach to evaluating events. Peters and other council board members do some evaluating. In other case, they’ve asked people that have had their own events certified to help evaluate new applications. For example, someone with a certified event in Austin might be asked to travel to Houston to evaluate another event. Teaming with Waste Management on the evaluations allows the process to be more systematic and consistent, Peters says.
“They bring a perspective and a process that events we work with will benefit from, including in having a more thorough post-event critique,” he adds.
From Waste Management’s perspective, putting an emphasis on responsible sporting events has an added benefit of helping to educate the community about waste reduction.
“It allows us on a grassroots level to work with marathons and other events and communities,” says Tom Carpenter, direct of sustainability services for Waste Management. “It educates people on recycling, food donations and other things that have positive impacts in communities.”
Waste Management has been the title sponsor of the Phoenix Open for about six years. “Since that time is when we’ve really upped that as a platform to show what is possible,” Caprenter says. “Since 2013 it’s operated as the largest zero waste event in the world. It’s the largest sustainable sporting event in the world. It’s a net positive on energy. We’ve reduced the carbon impact of the event. Plus it gives back millions of dollars locally to charities.”
In their role as primary evaluators with the council, the Waste Management team will confirm on-the-ground implementation of an event applicant’s sustainability plans and policies, document what they observe, and create a list of observations and recommendations for improvement. Waste Management will only evaluate events where there are no conflicts.
The calendar of events applying for council certification in 2016 is still being finalized, but it is anticipated that the Waste Management team will evaluate the following events: IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships in Portland, Oregon; TD Five Boro Bike Tour in New York City; U.S. Olympic Trials – Track & Field in Eugene, Oregon; Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago; Bank of America Chicago Marathon; Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia; Eversource Hartford Marathon in Hartford, Connecticut; and TD Beach to Beacon 10 K in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Other events will be added to the evaluation schedule throughout the year.