Three Smart Ways to Strive for Zero Waste


Amongst the hype of the most recent football season, one story continues to impact us long after the final whistle between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots: a collaboration to achieve a zero waste game at US Bank Stadium. Rush2Recycle aimed to recover more than 90% of the waste generated during the game and to send the remaining 10% to a waste-to-energy incineration plant.

The project leveraged:

• Three-bin collection systems for trash, recycling and composting
• Compostable service-ware, including cups, trays, straws and utensils
• Ambassadors to guide fans on disposal
• Hand-sorting the waste stream behind-the-scenes to recover what the public missed

When US Bank Stadium, Pepsi Co, Aramark, and the NFL announced the final score, Rush2Recycle had successfully recovered 91% of all gameday garbage. Nearly 63 tons (enough to fill 4,500 bathtubs) of the 69 tons were recycled or donated for reuse (62%) and composted (29%). This high-profile project demonstrated what we can achieve with creativity, cooperation, and a little innovation. If a stadium full of almost 70,000 intensely focused fans of mixed allegiance, hailing from all 50 states can strive for zero waste, so can your business.

And, what better time to start than now?

Whether you’re motivated by committing to sustainability, complying with increasing state and local legislation, or streamlining pickups and saving money, here’s what you need to know in 2018 to score waste savings for your company:

1. Waste bill data builds a foundation for saving.

Combining audits with bill data can reveal many ways to save on your expenses and beyond. By capturing, paying, analyzing, and reporting waste bills, unnecessary fees can be identified, but more importantly, you’ll uncover opportunities to lower costs through reducing container sizes and pickup frequencies and increasing diversion. Why pay for services you’re not leveraging?

2. Get to know your dumpster.

While most people avoid dumpster diving, gleaning data through a waste audit is the foundation to increase not only sustainability, but also cost savings. Capturing qualitative and quantitative data enables businesses to build the case for reduction, identify new opportunities for recycling programs, target training programs to maximize diversion, and create a baseline to measure improvement. For example, restaurants have discovered through audits how to better train staff on best-practice preparation to reduce food costs. When businesses are unable to perform a scientific waste audit, simply looking in the dumpster or talking to frontline staff can also provide valuable insight.

3. Compliance kickstarts action.

From California to New York, a growing number of cities and states are introducing regulations to increase recycling and composting programs. These regulations increase awareness and access to recycling and composting programs. With more diversion comes less waste, allowing individual businesses to seize the opportunity adjust container size or pick-up frequencies, leading to significant cost savings and fee avoidance.

Like Rush2Recycle at US Bank Stadium, a successful program leverages every team member, from executive to intern.

The waste team at US Bank Stadium was equally unafraid to jump into their waste for a bigger cause. While detailed signage and easy collection containers encouraged fans to separate their own trash, the waste team hand-sorted improperly placed items to achieve perfection. Now that’s commitment!7

Setting expectations, communicating progress towards your goal, and rewarding success all contribute to bottom line savings and making progress on your company’s sustainability efforts. It is a journey, not a destination, so remember, playing the game (even if you fail) is better than sitting on the sidelines.

Kristin Kinder, Product Manager, Waste Solutions at ENGIE Insight


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