The Olympic Track and Field trials in Eugene, Oregon drew in a large amount of foot traffic, with over 25,000 people a day spending most of their time eating, drinking, and looking through programs or shopping at the historic Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. An event like this generates a lot of waste, but event organizers took this into consideration and spent a significant amount of time planning waste prevention, recycling, and composting.
The goal of this sustainability team was to prevent 75 percent of waste from entering the local landfill, and they managed to come within two percentage points of meeting this goal. This is a five percent increase from the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Organizers required that all food vendors use compostable dishware, adopted a sustainable procurement policy, and did the best they could to make every aspect of the event as green as possible. A three-bin system was also set up at each waste disposal area to make it easy for people to sort their waste. One bin collected compost, one recyclables, and the other one trash. The trash bin was marked, “Landfill. Please see our other recycling and reuse options first.”
A sustainability video ran on the screens at Hayward Field each day before the event, reminding people to “please sort and discard responsibly.” This system worked to an extent, but organizers found that the bags still needed to be sorted to separate the materials. The Northwest Youth Corps, a nonprofit that provides job training and outdoor education for young people, stepped in and took the task of sorting through the bags.
Focus the Nation recently shared this thought: “With 58 percent of people paying attention to sports and only 18 percent to science, these events… represent a great opportunity to change citizen behaviors.”
As a University of Oregon graduate, I’m proud that such a green event was hosted on my campus. Oregon took sustainability seriously when I was a student there, so I’m glad to see it carry over to major events like this.
You can read more about this topic here.