It’s More Than Just a Game


As much as I enjoy going out and being active on the weekends, I’m planning to be (mostly) on the couch for Super Bowl LI. Yes, the game itself is only a few hours long, and there are the pre-game and post-game festivities to enjoy. That doesn’t take up the entire weekend, but there’s also the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open (WMPO) taking place. Tournament officials call it the “best attended golf tournament in the world,” citing that more than half a million fans flock to Scottsdale, AZ, every year to see “The Greatest Show on Grass.”

They also proudly claim to be “The Greenest Show on Grass.” Five years ago, the WMPO launched the Zero Waste Challenge to “control event materials and educate attendees so no waste is sent to the landfill.” The tournament plans for months taking on this challenge. You won’t see any trash bins on the golf course—there are only recycling and compost bins. And, the effort gets even more intense: There are three Zero Waste Stations throughout the course in which 40 cubic-yard roll off dumpsters have been transformed into kiosks that teach fans how to recycle and compost on the course and at home. The WMPO says that 100% of all tournament materials were diverted from the landfill last year.

The list of actions to reduce and reuse is massive. It includes reusing materials each year and using only vendors who do the same. (Vendors even sign a Zero Waste Agreement.) All paper materials—from tickets, to badges, to parking passes and maps—are printed on recyclable paper; the same golf balls and tees have been used since 2012 to make the Waste Management logo water feature on the course; most signage is reused; unused food is donated; and the list goes on and on with water and energy efficiency efforts.

According to the Phoenix Open website, “Since WM took over sponsorship of the Phoenix Open, our waste management practices have avoided 2,048 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).”

For all you football fans who also happen to be into zero waste, you’ll be happy to know that the Super Bowl is making strides in that regard.

One of the weekend events being held is a recycling rally at the Houston Zoo in which residents can drop off all kinds of electronic waste to be recycled and kept out of landfills. Extra food from the big game will be donated to the Houston Food Bank and other local community programs. All event materials, including fabric, carpeting, signs, décor, etc., will be recovered and repurposed or remanufactured. The NFL continues to increase its environmental efforts with each passing Super Bowl.

With so much emphasis on zero waste in the world of sports, it’s bound to catch on in more households, making it all more than just a game.

  • Roland Rusnell.

    A Neil Young concert used to be the greatest show on grass.
    It is good to know that these major events have made such big strides in pollution prevention, public health and environmental protection. They are moving toward fully sustainable events. Sponsors and event organizers are being creative in the ways that events can score big points for optics and save precious dollars on the back-end while ‘doing the right thing’ . Congrats to all involved.


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