Collection Program at NASCAR Race Bags Thousands of Pounds of Recyclables Over Weekend Event

By Mary E. Hill

Volunteers helped collect recyclable beverage containers at the NAPA 500 NASCAR race held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, November 15-18. A 60-cubic-foot-container overflowed with the collected items. The pilot collection program,"Recycle For America," was implemented by Coca-Cola, Co. and supported by the speedway and the National Association for PET Container Resources.

"Recycle For America", a new recycling program implemented by Coca Cola, was a success during the NAPA 500 NASCAR race in Hampton, Georgia. The program began on November 15, America Recycles Day, and continued through November 18th.

According to Scott Vitters, Coca Cola's environmental project manager-North America, the company's main agenda for the program was to improve environmental impact. Through awareness and education of the race fan, recycling became a major focal point of the weekend. Mr. Vitters said, "Coca Cola sees a huge opportunity here in the NASCAR race event setting."

The 200,000 fans attending the race found recycling their beverage containers to be very undemanding with the help of the workers involved. Fifteen volunteers arrived at 7 a.m. to avoid being caught in traffic streaming into the area. Most workers wore t-shirts and others sported fleece vests created from recycling PET, which were provided by Keep Georgia Beautiful.

A volunteer rounds up recyclables at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in a new program sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company and NAPCOR to encourage recycling of beverage containers at events. The proceeds from the items collected went to charity.

The volunteers and other workers erected highly visible kiosks throughout the main concourse and along pedestrian walkways. The fans that camped in the infield of the racetrack were handed rolled single bags as they checked-in. Recycling bins were placed in the 125 suites occupied for the race. Volunteers also watched over the stands, collecting recyclables from race attendees.

All of these approaches for gathering bottles and cans were tested for effectiveness throughout the weekend. The most successful method proved to be the volunteers placed in the stands. They collected the most material. The campground bags were the second most effective method, with the fans preferring to turn in the bag at the end of their stay Sunday night.

Contamination, or inappropriate materials found in each source, was greatest in the campground bags. The cleanest draw came from the recycling kiosks that were placed around the area.

The entire recycling program was endorsed and supported by John Meyers, director of operations and development at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the speedway's director of sales, Greg Walter. Mr. Vitters commented, "They all played a key role in encouraging the success of this pilot program. Without the help of the track staff, the accomplishments of the weekend would not have occurred."

Coca Cola, in conjunction with National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), arranged to have the material transported to a local recycling facility, Riverview Recycling of Mableton, Georgia. This NASCAR event produced an estimated 6,000 pounds of recyclable material, which overflowed a 60 cubic yard roll-off container. The proceeds from the recyclable material will go to support the United Way September 11th Fund.

According to Mr. Vitters, plans to continue recycling at the races would raise funds for Speedway Charities. "The fans think it's wonderful", he added.

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