Recycling Program

Member Question:

We are starting a Recycling Program at our arena, and I am looking for some suggestions. 

  • What would be the best first steps to take to move forward in this process?
  • What did you find to be the most effective way to start this transition in your building?
  • Who did you reach out to for help?
  • If you have a program specific for the premium areas of your building, please share that also.

Membe Answer:

  • We did all of our offices at one time. We made stickers for the cans and changed our default trash everywhere to be recyclable. All recycle cans and office cans became clear bags. The clear bags will show wet food trash and are an easy convert into non-recyclable trash.
  • Do the logistics first and train the staff on the changes and then have an implementation date. Sticker your dumpsters, office cans, etc. with your new program's logo. Get recyclable dumpsters from your waste handler.
  • We did have discussions with our handler to make sure we had enough dumpsters.
  • On the event-recycled aluminum, plastic, etc., partner with your beverage vendor to supply these. Coke or AB comes in and brings a special truck on our large events to pull and sort all of this. We had a whole Green Flag team approach. A committee started with someone from all the touch areas from Ops to IT.

Member Answer:

  • Initially, we talked with our Operations, Food and Beverage, and Housekeeping Directors to identify specifically what types of waste we generate, logistics of waste management in our building/unique needs/challenges presented by our venue, and current waste removal (landfill) costs. Once we better understood the types of materials we wanted to recycle and the building parameters, we sought a recycling vendor who could take care of our needs in the simplest fashion. For us that meant a vendor who could collect single stream (no sorting required) paper, glass, plastic, metal, cardboard, and aluminum waste. It was also beneficial at that point for us to make detailed comparisons between vendors as well as our current waste removal costs.
  • We had been recycling cardboard and glass bottles for some time, but the transition to office recycling and front-of-house waste was initially a challenge. We broke it out into two phases: Phase I began with detailed discussions with Housekeeping to educate their staff on the new system and work out best practices for waste collection. Next, we began recycling paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum, glass, IT waste, etc. for administrative office and back-of-house areas only. This phase allowed us to start small to work out any problems, and it also gave us time to research and purchase recycle-friendly trash cans for the theatre. In addition to the receptacles we purchased, we worked with our graphic designer to develop easy to read signage to make recycling simpler for both guests and staff. Once Phase I recycling was running smoothly, we initiated Phase II: front-of-house recycling for the auditorium.
  • For the most part, we talked to lots of different recyclers, visiting plants and comparing notes to develop a plan that made sense for us.

Member Answer:

  • Find a good corporate partner that can provide the containers and help promote, and find out what local companies/groups collect the recycle; in our case, it involves the area trash company.
  • Start small and try not to do everything at once because we had some growing pains early on with pick up of the recycling and our cleaning company struggling to keep up with both the trash and recycling at the same time. We ended up with a lot of "contamination" trash ending up in recycling because the trashcans were full, so people dropped trash in the recycle bins.
  • We actually had some of our corporate partners approach us that had big recycle programs and that helped us get things going and defray some of the startup costs.
  • This was a little more challenging based on the nature of the area (space, getting recycle bins that look appropriate for that area, etc.). We tried a few things, and luckily our corporate partners came up with some recycling collection bins that not only look appropriate for the area, but also fit the needs of our cleaning company.

Member Answer:

  • If you haven't done anything to date, start small. It will be frustrating to roll something out arena-wide right away.
  • Signage on containers, a recycling container next to every trash can, training for staff.
  • Your trash hauler would be a good source to talk to, as the items that can be recycled will change from hauler and area. Other people in the industry that have been successful were a huge help. The Green Sports Alliance now has a recycling playbook for venues that would like to start a program.
  • Our suites are all recycling or compost. We generate very little trash up there.