Blaine, Minn. (June 22, 2016) – Event professionals agree. One of the most challenging environments to implement a comprehensive recycling program is at major public events. There can be thousands of people and lots of waste. Some is recyclable, some not. And admittedly, not everyone understands how to recycle in an unfamiliar environment. Some say it’s just too much trouble.
That’s the challenge faced by the Schwan’s USA CUP youth soccer tournament, the National Sports Center’s (NSC) largest annual event, scheduled this year for July 15-23 in Blaine, Minn. As the NSC prepares to welcome over 25,000 soccer players and fans from 19 countries and 20 states each day for nine days, the goal is compliance.
“The main goal each year is compliance,” said the NSC’s Chief Operating Officer Steve Olson. “The only way the recycling program can be successful is if teams participate in the program. And the best way to encourage participation is to keep the program simple.”
Rather than placing hundreds of recycling bins around the campus, each team will receive two plastic bags – a black bag for trash and a clear bag for recycling. Teams clean up after each game, and then the coach or manager can drop the bags at major drop locations around the campus. This is the same program that was implemented last year, with some success.
“Last year, this process helped us take 275,000 pounds of waste out of the waste stream,” said Olson.
Of the total waste generated at Schwan’s USA CUP last year, 28 percent was recyclable material. It was the first time the NSC collected data on recycling at USA CUP, and the goal for 2016 is to improve on that number. The NSC will work with their trash hauler, Walters Recycling and Refuse, to compile recycling data after the tournament concludes.
“The hardest part is tracking participation,” said George Ellis. “No one is monitoring these teams’ compliance, so it’s their job to take on the responsibility to clean up after themselves and segregate their waste.”
Better education, and marketing of the program to the participating teams is part of the plan.
“I think educating people about what this program is doing and how it affects the campus and the community on a larger scale is important,” Ellis continued. “It’s really a respect for the game. No one wants to play on fields full of trash, so it’s a way for teams to pay it forward.”
“The three biggest ski hills in Southeastern Michigan are actually made of trash,” said Olson. “It goes to show that all of your trash goes somewhere and if you recycle, it doesn’t go there.”
It was just a start, but the NSC’s USA CUP recycling efforts last year received recognition from Anoka County earlier this year. In May, Anoka County Recycling & Resource Solutions presented the NSC with one of its Recycling Recognition Awards for 2015.
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