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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Winning Recycling Seasons: Team Work Required!

As the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Event Venue Pilot, the Georgia Dome is committed to the teamwork necessary for Atlanta Falconswinning recycling seasons. Fact finding tours to witness current practices in action are an excellent first step to refining recycling practices closer to the coveted zero waste threshold.

Falcons Tailgate recycling dumpsters
Georgia World Congress Center Authority sustainability director Tim Trefzer hosted a front and back-of-the-house GA Dome game day recycling tour for Elemental Impact founder Holly Elmore during the September 15 Falcons | Rams game. New Falcons Stadium designers, Carlie Bullock-Jones of EcoWorks Studio & Chris DeVolder of ThreeSixty Architecture joined the fun and informative tour. Beginning with Falcons Landing, the group visited pre-game festivities.

Next on the tour was tailgating in one of the three GWCCA-owned parking lots. While giving away koozies, the Rise Up & Recycle Team circulated throughout the parking lot encouraging fans to recycle. In the 2012 season, Novelis - Falcons recycling partner - provided two brightly colored recycling dumpsters for each parking lot. The colorful dumpsters continue to broadcast a bright recycling message in their second season.

Tim next to the new indoor
recycling bins
New Novelis-provided recycling bins made their debut inside and outside of the stadium at the 2013 season first home game. With fans prohibited from bringing beverages into the Dome, the bins are a haven for valuable aluminum and PET - polyethylene terephthalate, a common plastic used for carbonated beverages and bottled water containers.

A strong zero waste foundation is in place at the Dome, a founding Zero Waste Zones participant. Pump stations are used for condiments with only mayonnaise provided in individual disposable packets, a common containment in food waste for composting streams. Levy Restaurants, the Dome's concessionaire, serves food & beverage in compostable packaging for most items. 

The SFCI Team is exploring solutions for remaining food & beverage "trash" items including the roasted peanut bags. At first glance, either existing products or creative solutions are available for the items.

Event best practices are strong in the GA Dome suites. Levy Restaurants serves food in reusable platters, bowls and chafing dishes along with china plates, stainless flatware, cloth napkins and beverage glassware service. Recycling bins are installed in the back countertop of each suite.

Pre-packaged beverages are
sold in recyclable containers
Pre-packaged game day beverages are served in recyclable material - aluminum & PET. Post game the bowl is cleaned with the beverage containers collected in blue bags for placement in the recycling compactor. Each game approximately 35,000 game programs (pre-game every other seat beverage container is stuffed with a program) and 140,000 promotional flyers (every seat container receives two flyers) are destined for the landfill.  

Although it appears a simple task to collect the program and flyers post-game for recycling, challenges abound. Post-game bowl cleaning is performed via a contracted janitorial service. The janitorial company is only required to separately collect paper products if the task was included as a contract provision during the RFP - request for proposal - process. Another challenge is the constantly changing hourly staff employed to clean the stadium.

Falcons programs &
promotional flyers
Although arduous in the first years, the Portland Trailblazers developed an effective stadium cleaning program. SFCI Team Members  Asean | StalkMarket and NatureWorks worked closely with the Trailblazers on untangling the challenges into success and are eager to share their expertise with the GA Dome.

The tour included a visit to the loading dock area for recycling in action with the cardboard baler, food waste bins for compost collection and the recycling compactor. 

For a tour pictorial recap, visit the Ei FB album, 09-15-13 Falcons Recycling Tour.

Subsequent to the GA Dome tour, Tim and Holly traveled to the Greensboro, GA Novelis aluminum recycling plant. It was impressive to witness first-hand how a can travels through the chipping, baking to remove inks & other contaminants and melting process necessary to make an aluminum ingot. Each batch is tested to ensure specific recipes for the ingot's product destination are followed.

Novelis tour group
Greensboro plant ingots are shipped to a Novelis facility in Kentucky for rolled aluminum production, a raw material in beverage can manufacturing. Once an ingot leaves the Greensboro plant, aluminum cans return to the recycling plant in an average sixty days for yet a another material reuse. 

The SFCI - GA Dome Team is staged for ACTION! At an upcoming home game, team members will "pick" several sections of the Dome for food and beverage waste along with the associated compostable packaging. In addition, food and beverage-related items not compostable will be collected in a separate bag for later analysis. The local composter will place the Dome compostable bags filled with post-consumer food waste in a designated area to monitor it during the decomposition process.

SFCI-GA Dome Executive Team
With the new Falcons Stadium scheduled to open in the 2017 Season, the SFCI - GA Dome Team intends to work closely with the new stadium design team. Lessons learned during the Dome's recycling refinement may be incorporated into the new stadium design. With all parties playing well together, the first Falcons Stadium season is staged for recycling wins before, during and after games and other events.

... and by the way, the Falcons won the September 15 game against the Rams!

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