Getting to Zero Waste

90% - keep that number in mind -  that’s how much of your event waste you should be diverting away from landfill to be able to claim that your event is a zero waste event. Sounds tough? Easy? 

For most races that’s a pretty high bar to clear - particularly as, when you start adding everything up, it quickly becomes apparent that a race can generate waste in many more ways than may seem obvious at first. 

To see how a race might get to that zero waste goal, I’m joined today by P3R’s Director of Operations, Brain Schmidt. Brian and the P3R team have really been at the sharp end of event sustainability, having achieved a zero waste status for the very popular DICK'S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon since before “event sustainability” was even a term!

With Brian’s help we’re going to be looking at a race’s more obvious - and less obvious - sources of waste, waste segmentation, recycling, composting and reusing waste materials, as well as the importance of joining forces with local agencies and businesses that share your sustainability goal.

And since making sustainability sustainable in the long term has to come with a dose of financial pragmatism, and a careful balancing act between respecting the environment and delivering a fun race experience, we’ll also look at things like sustainability sponsors and other ways to take some of the burden of achieving zero waste off your shoulders.

In this episode:

  • The biggest sources of race waste
  • How much waste does a typical race produce per participant
  • What zero waste means and what sources of waste go into the calculation of race waste
  • Recoverable vs reusable vs recyclable vs compostable race waste
  • Waste materials you may think is recyclable but isn't
  • Reducing cardboard packaging waste 
  • Donating leftover swag and discarded clothing 
  • Working with local sustainability organizations
  • Managing race purchases to reduce material leftovers
  • Premium giveaways vs tons of giveaways
  • Fewer water stations = less water station waste
  • Managing the cost of sustainability efforts through sustainability sponsorships

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