Baseball Stadium Hits Home Run for Recycling and Composting

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Courtesy of BioCycle Magazine

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SBC PARK - home of the San Francisco Giants major league baseball team - seats 42,000 fans. Last season, more than 3 million persons attended games. One feature that sets SBC Park apart from most stadiums is its commitment to comprehensive recycling, water and energy conservation, and growing use of biodegradable, recycled content and lower toxicity products. In terms of recycling and composting, the Giants' staff, vendors and contractors actively recover materials like paper, cardboard, grass clippings and food scraps. The organic residuals - about 12 cubic yards per game - are collected and composted by Norcal Waste Systems. Applied Composting Consulting, under contract with San Francisco's Department of Environment, provides technical expertise and employee training. By the end of last season, the Giants reached a 56 percent diversion rate. The team's goal is to limit purchases to only those items that are compostable or recyclable to further reduce solid waste.

As a example, the current goal of the Giants organization is to reduce garbage compactor “pulls” (collection events) to one per game day. Before the initiation of multimaterial recycling in February, 2002, there were three compactor loads pulled per game. In 2003, one compactor was eliminated and the remaining one was pulled twice per game, completely full each time. With increased recycling, the volume of garbage has been reduced to two partial loads per game, 60 percent full almost eliminating the need for the second pull.

Materials are separated by concession staff for collection into the following categories: 1) Mixed garbage into rolling carts that are dumped via automated lift into a compactor; 2) Clean cardboard into a downstroke baler; 3) Bottles and cans into four cubic yard dumpsters marked with blue; and 4) Food scraps and paper into three cubic yard dumpsters marked with green.

Linerless cartloads of food scraps are taken down to the loading dock by Giants maintenance staff, where they are dumped into green coded organics dumpsters for collection by Golden Gate Disposal and Recycling. The carts are then rinsed by Giants maintenance staff before being returned to service. There are virtually no contaminants in the food scraps from the luxury suites due to the hands-on training provided by Applied Compost Consulting, the diligence of the wait staff and Giants maintenance porters, and the careful inspection of most loads by staff at the loading dock.

At the end of each game, unserved, wrapped edible foods are donated to food rescue agencies such as Food Runners and Compadres, and food scraps suitable for composting are returned to the fourth floor kitchens to be separated and handled appropriately.

The receiving warehouse generates large quantities of clean recyclable cardboard, which is transported to the loading dock in large carts and baled in the downstroke baler. An attached prep kitchen that primarily prepares fresh foods (as opposed to prepackaged items) for some of the concession stands sets aside unserved, surplus edible food stuff for donation to food rescue agencies and separates food scraps for composting directly into 32 gallon green wheeled carts (toters).

The recovery program at SBC Park has garnered impressive statistics that for 2004 recycled over 1,760 tons of materials, achieved a 56 percent diversion rate as measured by Golden Gate Disposal &Recycling (which handles both trash and recyclables for the San Francisco Giants), and saved approximately $100,000 on garbage disposal.

Christopher Williams and Steven Sherman are with Applied Compost Consulting, Inc. in Oakland, California, which provides recycling training and technical assistance to the San Francisco Giants organization.

 

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