A unique event in more ways than one
Waste Management Phoenix Open continues to defy the impossible
January 30, 2017
- Over the last four years, 100 percent of the waste generated by 2.2 million fans, players and sponsors, has been repurposed for beneficial reuse. (John Boeddeker/Getty Images)
Impossible? Think Again.
Whether you’re watching the Waste Management Phoenix Open in-person or tuning in on television, one thing is for certain – this golf tournament is unique.
Over the last 81-plus years, the WM Phoenix Open has become a shining example of what is possible when you ignore the word impossible. Imagine if Bob Goldwater, the father of the WM Phoenix Open, listened to every person who told him that holding a golf tournament in Phoenix would be an “impossible” task. Or, if The Thunderbirds would have listened to the pundits who claimed moving the tournament to north Scottsdale would be a disaster. Or, if tournament officials would have agreed with the notion that putting a stadium around the 16th hole was “a bad idea.”
When the Waste Management teams first started the Zero Waste Challenge, they heard it over and over again, “That can’t be done” or “No trash cans – for more than half a million people – that’s impossible.” Like Goldwater and The Thunderbirds before them, Waste Management saw the world a bit differently, and Zero Waste became Waste Management’s opportunity to demonstrate what is possible if you ignore the word “impossible.”
Over the last four years, 100 percent of the waste generated by 2.2 million fans, players and sponsors, has been repurposed for beneficial reuse. Aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cups and containers, and even event signage have been reused, recycled, composted or recovered for energy.
“The backbone for this zero waste achievement are the Waste Management pros. They do a tremendous job of preparing for and then executing the game plan,” said Jim Fish, President and CEO of Waste Management. “They meet and plan with The Thunderbirds, sponsors and tournament vendors, who all commit to using only recyclable, compostable or reusable materials. Then, they make it simple for fans to ‘chip-in’ and do their part, presenting two choices – recycling or compost bins to collect materials.”
What began as a grassroots campaign to educate golf fans about sustainability, has today become a broader movement that Waste Management hopes will inspire everyone to “learn it here, live it everywhere.”
In fact, a number of tournament vendors and sponsors are “living it” outside of the tournament as they have incorporated zero waste initiatives into their business practices, like M Catering.
As the Waste Management Phoenix Open continues to grow, more fans means more collaboration, more participation, more education, more recycling, more composting, and for Waste Management, more opportunity to make a difference by teaching those in attendance how to be pros for the environment. Simple things like:
• Recycling plastic water and soda bottles – 40 recycled plastic soda bottles make enough fiberfill to stuff a sleeping bag
• Recycling newspaper and paper products – they become writing paper, cereal boxes, paper towels, tissue paper and cardboard
• Composting food waste which can be used as an ingredient in soil to grow healthy plants and vegetables
• Using reusable cups, plates and utensils versus disposable items which only creates more materials that might otherwise go to landfills
• Recycling aluminum cans – which can have a second life as lawn chairs, construction products, aluminum foil and even cars
• Recycling RIGHT. Empty liquid from materials you are recycling. Not removing excess liquid from materials like plastic bottles or aluminum cans can cause contamination in recyclables making them destined for a landfill
“The Waste Management Phoenix Open is many things,” Fish added. “It’s charitable. It’s fun. It’s unique. And, it’s inspiring. The seemingly impossible, definitely is possible!”
The Council for Responsible Sport also believes the Waste Management Phoenix Open is inspiring. The Oregon-based non-profit promotes sustainability in sports and recently named the tournament as an “Inspire” event, making it the first PGA TOUR tournament and the largest sporting event in the world to achieve “Inspire” status. Achieving “Inspire” event status is earned through demonstrating a lasting commitment to producing responsible events by earning multiple certifications from the Council for Responsible Sport.
As legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” We couldn’t agree more, Coach.