Sneak Peek: Green at the Phoenix Open

The Phoenix Open 16th Hole

Members of the media and sponsor organizations tee off at the legendary 16th hole for a chance to win for charity. Photo: Jennifer Berry, Earth911

“The Greatest Show on Grass” is about to get more green than ever before.

Earth911 had the opportunity to preview some of the sustainable initiatives that will take place at the upcoming Waste Management Phoenix Open at the Official Phoenix Open Media Day this week.

With almost a half-million visitors expected to arrive at the TPC Scottsdale, the Phoenix Open is one of the most well-attended events on the PGA Tour.

The huge crowds will not only make for an exciting competition, but also a great deal of waste. Last year, the first year that Waste Management was the title sponsor of the Open, 62 percent of the waste created was diverted to recycling or other end-uses.

This year, the Phoenix Open is improving and expanding upon its sustainable initiatives to raise that percentage even higher.

Michael Bartell, district manager for Waste Management of Arizona, heads up all of the waste collection and operations that happen during the Open. He calls the event his “Super Bowl,” because of the intensity of the logistics required to manage and make sustainable such an event.

Raquel Fagan tries out a Greenopolis Kiosk

Earth911's VP of Media, Raquel Fagan, tries out a Greenopolis Kiosk for the first time - and later wins a solar powered backpack! Photo: Jennifer Berry, Earth911

Food waste diversion is a key initiative, especially ensuring that food is removed from plastic plates in order to remove contaminants from the plastics recycling process. Bartell is also encouraging vendors to utilize paper plates, which can be collected and composted with the rest of the leftover food.

“We have a great partnership with Pinetop of Arizona […] They take that compost and the food waste and paper products and put it into a digester,” Bartell explains. “That digester turns it into a compost, which is used up there for agriculture, for local parks and for the local community as well.”

BigBelly solar-powered trash compactors will also be used throughout the event to limit the number of trash pickups. Greenopolis Recycling Kiosks will also be on the grounds to reward visitors for recycling, with eco-friendly prizes up for grabs as well to some of the Kiosks’ users.

Also “Recycling Ambassadors” will be available to educate attendees on what is and is not recyclable. “They can really help the patrons and engage – that is going to be the biggest impact we can have for what goes in the waste stream first, before we try to divert it,” Bartell says. Giant monument signs, visible in the crowd, will also be in place to help inform people about what goes in which bin and to encourage recycling.

New this year, Waste Management will be recycling greywater created in the kitchens and hospitality suites along the course. “Greywater is wash water, it comes from your kitchen, when you do the dishes, when you clean things off,” he explains. “We’ll also be collecting and reusing that for the restrooms.”

“It’s a good pilot program, and something we’re really looking to that we can really get a good impact on and reduce the amount of freshwater we need, which is really important,” Bartell adds.

Earth911 greened up its own golf game at Media Day by playing with recycled golf balls by Dixon Golf and recycling its bottles in a Greenopolis kiosk.

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