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WM’s Zero Waste Challenge exceeds goals

Waste Management’s (WM) official tally of the final diversion and recovery as part of the Zero Waste Challenge from this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open (WMPO) PGA TOUR tournament were better than expected.

More than 97 percent of waste generated by the tournament was diverted from landfills, exceeding the 90 percent tournament goal. Eighty-two percent of tournament materials were recovered from the waste stream through recycling, composting, material reuse and charitable donations – far exceeding the goal of 70 percent.

While the tournament ran, months of set-up took place prior to the event, followed by weeks of post-event material removal. All materials diverted were carefully handled and tracked to ensure nearly nothing went to waste.

The Zero Waste Challenge initiative mandated that all vendors utilize compostable or recyclable serving materials or containers, and educated patrons about the proper disposal of materials in either recycling or compost bins for all waste produced at the event. For the first time in PGA Tour history, no trash cans were present on course. Volunteer recycling ambassadors were stationed throughout the course to ensure materials went in the appropriate bins, and a dedicated operations team behind the scenes sorted materials.

Waste Management’s Sustainability Services team, which has expertise in sustainable event management, led the greening of the WMPO. The team of experienced sustainability professionals worked closely with tournament organizers to develop creative solutions to the unique waste management challenges presented by the event, which attracted 518,262 people. The program’s success reinforces that the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the “greatest and greenest” show on grass.

Materials were recovered at the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open in many ways, but the highlights include:


  • Plastics, including LDPE, HDPE, PET, aluminum, paper, cardboard, glass and metal were sent to WM’s Arizona Community Ecocenter Material Recovery Facility (MRF) for processing.


  • Food, napkins, plates and cups used during the tournament were processed in a digester to produce high-quality compost for surrounding communities.

Charitable Donation

  • WM donated carpet to a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore to sell the carpet to the public. Proceeds of carpet sales help Habitat achieve its mission of building homes, communities and hope.

Transforming Event Materials

  • All of the scrap wood was processed by a local organic lawn and garden company, Gro-Well, who ground the wood into mulch.
  • Turf and green mesh were sent to a company that recovers the energy and mineral components from waste for use as fuel and product additives used in manufacturing processes. This conserves fossil fuels and natural mineral resources and diverts the materials from landfills.

While not included in the tournament recovery goals, the approximately 140,000 used golf balls filling the WM water feature on the lake at hole 18 were donated to The First Tee, a youth charity teaching life skills through the game of golf.