Quantcast

Cutting Waste Is Smart Business

Energy

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Alice Henly

Sports stadiums and arenas, like all large facilities, generate a lot of waste—typically thousands of tons of trash each year. Waste generation in the U.S., including all industrial wastes and municipal solid waste (MSW), totals more than 14 billion tons annually. Unfortunately, the production and management of all that waste directly contributes to global climate disruption as well as other serious environmental issues, including—water pollution, air pollution and harming wildlife habitats.

Only 82 million tons (about 32 percent) of MSW were recycled in 2009, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s biennial report, yet this alone cut GHG emissions by 178 million metric tons, the equivalent of removing 33 million passenger cars from the road for an entire year.

Despite many of the benefits of waste prevention, recycling and composting—protecting biodiversity, saving energy, water, and valuable natural resources such as trees and metal ores; and reducing use of landfills and incinerators and GHG emissions—it’s an ongoing challenge to engage more businesses and people in smarter waste management, one which the Cleveland Indians are taking on in a big way.

Since its inaugural year in 1994, Progressive Field has boasted recycling receptacles for plastic, cardboard and aluminum. However, it wasn’t until late 2007, when the ballpark’s waste hauling contract expired, that the Cleveland Indians began to significantly expand their recycling facilities and establish the ballpark as an industry leader in waste management.

Starting in 2008, Brad Mohr, assistant director of ballpark operations for the Cleveland Indians, established new partnerships with local waste companies and arranged for the separation of the ballpark’s recyclables on site, instead of commingling.

To sort on site, the Indians bought two balers that create 1,200-pound cubes of cardboard and 500-pound ready-for-sale cubes of plastic or aluminum.

“Combining the money we saved from cancelled trash hauls—paying to have waste picked up from the ballpark and sorted—with the money we made from selling the sorted recycled commodities, we paid off the total $30,000 cost of the two balers in six months,” Mohr explains. “That really got people’s attention and gave our environmental work real credibility. The senior staff’s immediate response was ‘Keep going!’”

In three years the Indians have cut their annual waste in half. In 2007 the ballpark generated 1261.6 tons of trash. By 2010 this was down to 613.4 tons. This reduced the number of trash compactor pickups—that cost an average of $500 each—by 64 percent from 254 pickups in 2007 to 92 in 2010, saving the Club $50,000.

Mohr is confident that the Indians will continue to save $50,000 or more annually, relative to 2007 costs, with the ballpark’s improved waste management and recycling system. “That's where we see the financial difference…in recycling, [and] avoiding trash being hauled away,” Mohr says. “Green initiatives are here to stay because they save teams money.”

The Indians’ improved ballpark recycling has also notably created more local jobs while reducing the ballpark’s environmental impact. After every game there is a ballpark “pick” where an average of 30 custodial staff do a sweep of the entire ballpark, picking up and sorting trash from recyclables. In order to increase the recycling rate at the ballpark, Mohr now employs more custodial staff, hiring about eight additional workers each game, to collect recyclables post-game.

The many benefits of the Indians’ improved waste management system—creating jobs, cutting pollution, reducing the ballpark’s environmental impact and saving money—is echoed in a new report by the Tellus Institute that will be launched Nov. 15 at an event hosted by the Indians. The event is taking place at Progressive Field alongside a series of nationwide events.

The national report—More Jobs, Less Pollution—finds that reaching a 75 percent national recycling rate would create nearly 1.5 million more jobs than in 2008. It would also reduce conventional and toxic emissions that impact human and ecosystem health, strengthen the economy by creating a stable local employment base, and reduce CO2 emissions by 276 million metric tons by 2030—equivalent to 72 coal-fired power plants or taking 50 million cars off the road. San Francisco, Austin, Houston, and Washington, D.C. are all celebrating National Recycling Day, Nov. 15, 2011.

More Jobs, Less Pollution was prepared for the BlueGreen Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Service Employees International Union, Recycling Works! and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). It represents the united mission of labor and environmental groups to create a strengthened, more resilient American economy based on green jobs.

“Increasing our recycling rather than dumping trash in landfills will create nearly 1.5 million jobs that are sorely needed, and will benefit the environment,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president. “The Teamsters are interested in creating good, green jobs.”

The Indians’ impressive waste management work, among other green initiatives, provides a strong example for large businesses in Cleveland and statewide for moving towards a stronger green economy.

“The Indians have a wide breadth of activity and efforts in greening and sustainability thanks to the guidance and support of NRDC and NRDC’s unparalleled sports greening resources,” says Mohr. “Our comprehensive recycling program is just the beginning, as we’re also the first American League club to install solar power. And we are trying to add a new green feature each year.”

Get the full scoop on the Indians’ impressive recycling program and savings by reading NRDC’s recently published Smarter Business Case Study. Learn more about the More Jobs, Less Pollution report at NRDC Senior Scientist Allen Hershkowitz’s blog.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Graphical representation of vertical pectoral herding by whale in Southeast Alaska. Prey are denoted in yellow. Whale deploys an upward-spiral bubble-net to corral prey and establish the first barrier; pectorals then protract to form a 'V' shape around the open mouth (depicted by blue arrows), creating a second physical barrier. Kyle Kosma / Royal Society Open Science / CC BY 4.0

When you have a whale-sized appetite, you need to figure out some pretty sophisticated feeding strategies. They mysteries of how a humpback whale traps so much prey have eluded scientists, until now.

Read More Show Less
California Yosemite River Scene. Mobilus In Mobili / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

An advisory panel appointed by Trump's first Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, has recommended privatizing National Parks campgrounds, allowing food trucks in and setting up WiFi at campgrounds while also reducing benefits to seniors, according to the panel's memo.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Strips of native prairie grasses planted on Larry and Margaret Stone's Iowa farm protect soil, water and wildlife. Iowa State University / Omar de Kok-Mercado, CC BY-ND

By Lisa Schulte Moore

Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses bring the state a lot of political attention during presidential election cycles. But in my view, even though some candidates have outlined positions on food and farming, agriculture rarely gets the attention it deserves.

Read More Show Less
In Haiti, Action Against Hunger screens children for malnutrition. Christophe Da Silva / Action Against Hunger, Haiti

By Dr. Charles Owubah

As a child growing up on a farm in Ghana, I have personally known hunger. The most challenging time was between planting and harvesting – "the hunger season." There were many occasions when we did not know where the next meal would come from.

Today, on World Food Day, I think of the 820 million people around the world who are undernourished.

Read More Show Less
A Lyme disease warning on Montauk, Long Island, New York. Neil R / Flickr

Biomedical engineers have developed a new, rapid test capable of detecting Lyme disease in just 15 minutes.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Brown bear fishing for salmon in creek at Pavlof Harbor in Tongass National Forest, Alaska. Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket / Getty Images

The Trump administration has moved one step closer to opening Earth's largest intact temperate rainforest to logging.

Read More Show Less
The Democratic primary candidates take the stage during Tuesday's debate. SAUL LOEB / AFP via Getty Images

On Tuesday night, the Democratic presidential candidates gathered for what The Guardian said was the largest primary debate in U.S. history, and they weren't asked a single question about the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A. Battenburg / Technical University of Munich

By Sarah Kennedy

Algae in a pond may look flimsy. But scientists are using algae to develop industrial-strength material that's as hard as steel but only a fraction of the weight.



Read More Show Less