Seattle’s Lumen Field Sets Sustainability Standards for Sports and Concerts

Seattle’s Lumen Field Sets Sustainability Standards for Sports and Concerts

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Sports stadiums could also be superb for experimenting with sustainable meals service, recycling, and composting packages. Seattle’s Lumen Field is dedicated to minimizing its environmental influence. It extends that promise to followers who attend video games and live shows, diverting a median of 90% of waste on the venue from landfills. Imagine if each native restaurant may promise the identical outcomes.

Lumen Field hosts lots of of enormous and small occasions annually. This summer season, it broke attendance data when Ed Sheeran performed for 77,286 fans, beating Taylor Swift’s mark of 72,171 followers earlier in the summertime. The Swifties produced seismic tremors equal to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake as they danced alongside together with her music. With greater than two million guests yearly, the stadium depends on fastidiously chosen concessions packaging, recycling bins, and progressive processes to gather, type, and ship as a lot materials as doable for reuse, recycling, and composting.

“We have a Seahawks sport on Sunday,” Christy Briggs, Logistics and Sustainability Manager at First & Goal Incorporated, who manages Lumen Field’s recycling and different sustainability packages. “It’s our house opener and in a single day we’re turning the constructing over to prepare for Beyonce to maneuver into the constructing.”

Technology additionally helps observe what’s used and recycled or composted contained in the stadium. Lumen Field is a part of the Green Sports Alliance’s Play to Zero initiative, which helps greater than 300 member services combine measurement practices that may determine gaps in assortment and processing to scale back waste.

Because Lumen Field is a tightly managed house — safety issues restrict gadgets allowed in — followers can go away every little thing they bought to eat throughout a sport below their seat once they go. And the lion’s share of the waste left can be collected, sorted, and processed. However, followers could arrive with unrecyclable supplies. After Taylor Swift’s reveals, for instance, Lumen Field collected feather boas and beads that needed to go to landfill. 

The stadium has invested closely in sustainable operations. It sources all its janitorial provides from Green Seal-certified companies and buys as a lot meals as doable from native farmers, donating tons of unconsumed meals to the neighborhood. 

Curated Foodservice and Compostable Packaging

Lumen Field’s course of begins with deciding on the cups and packaging utilized in its concession stands. 

Over a decade in the past, the stadium adopted totally compostable cups for comfortable drinks and beer. Food service packaging can also be chosen for compostability. Beverages in aluminum cans are collected in bins with openings that enable solely the cans and bottles, not cups, to slot in. These steps produce pre-sorted baggage that may be shortly despatched to recycling with out further sorting.

Look at waste bins subsequent time you go to a quick-service restaurant. Do they permit the blending of things? Tossing every little thing in a single bin could appear handy, however Lumen Field’s instance suggests a greater manner. Point out to the supervisor that by limiting what goes in every compartment, the restaurant can effectively seize and course of meals waste, cups, utensils, and packaging.

With nearly whole management over what is available in, Lumen Field has been in a position to deal with bettering its course of. When new sustainable choices come alongside, they might not match into the infrastructure constructed to deal with earlier packaging selections.

“[When] the aluminum cup got here onto the scene,” Briggs stated. “But for me, our compost cup was higher than the aluminum cup. And that’s not saying the aluminum cup was unhealthy. It’s simply that or our resolution, it could have actually type of been nearly a backward proposition.”

However, aluminum cups are the higher selection for different stadiums with out entry to commercial composting companies than unrecyclable plastic cups. Earlier meals service selections don’t restrict what Briggs’ crew will contemplate. New choices should match into its evolving technique. For instance, the music venue at Lumen Field, the WAMU Theater, has begun testing reusable beverage cups.

Mighty Mini MRF

Having followers do some sorting utilizing bins designed to restrict what goes in is an important step, however further sorting is required. Unrecyclable packaging, like chip baggage, can slip in.

“90% of [our waste] is compostable,” Brings stated. “But you’ve obtained these chip baggage, you’ve obtained these, however as a substitute of placing three cans on the market, we’re going to finally then must type and open these baggage.”

Following a decline in restoration charges in 2019 and through COVID, Briggs’ crew, in collaboration with Reno, Nevada-based Waste Xperts, designed and examined a MRFI, or mini supplies restoration facility sorting system, that operates onsite at Lumen Field after large occasions.

Before the MRFI, baggage had been ripped open and sorted on giant tables, which decreased restoration charges. For occasion, some meals and liquid waste was misplaced within the course of. The new system makes use of a conveyor belt on which supplies are dumped and sorted to take away contamination like chip baggage. Liquid waste can also be collected beneath the belt.

Lumen Field’s mini supplies restoration facility kinds meals waste from recyclables and trash that a lot be despatched to a landfill.

The MRFI flattens the waste, which passes by 4 to 6 sorters who search for exceptions to what may be composted, eradicating recyclables and gadgets that have to be despatched to a landfill. Unlike a municipal MRF, the place a variety of supplies collected at curbside have to be sorted, the Lumen Field system focuses on detrimental sorting. Not a lot must be eliminated — many of the materials is meals waste and compostable packaging chosen to be used in concession stands — so the work goes shortly. Now, Lumen Field can handle waste created by back-to-back occasions.

“[The mini MRF] additionally cleaned up the method,” stated Briggs, pondering forward to the subsequent enchancment her crew is searching for to make. “The rubbish is dumped it sorted it all of the liquid type of drains off and we’ve obtained bins beneath that accumulate it. Our subsequent step is hoping to attempt to discover a approach to take that and switch it into power. “

The conveyor belt system has made the job extra pleasing, leading to higher worker retention. Some individuals who beforehand give up the disagreeable sorting work got here again and stayed after utilizing the MRFI.

Walking the Talk

“Here’s a really counterintuitive, very odd factor. [We urge fans to] go away your rubbish the place you’re at,” Briggs stated. “That makes it not less than twice as quick to scrub up and type.”

In addition to the sorting carried out by followers on the recycling and waste bins, Lumen Field employees make three passes by way of the stadium after a sport or present. They decide up the recyclables, subsequent meals waste and compostables, then trash, eliminating the necessity for extra sorting.

Following nearly 20 years of progress at Lumen Field, Briggs stated there may be nonetheless work to do to scale back the stadium’s environmental influence. Nearly 95% of incandescent lighting has been transformed to LED. However, the stadium nonetheless wants to enhance its measurement of its Scope 3 greenhouse gasoline emissions related to fan journey, amongst different points. With 90% of its waste circular already, Briggs stated the group will proceed to seek for composable or recyclable options to its remaining waste.

Labeling an merchandise “recyclable” or making a recycling bin accessible with out following by way of on the promise to type and ship the fabric for processing has turn into too acquainted an expertise. Lumen Field delivers on its promise to make a go to as sustainable as doable.