The Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and State Farm Arena hosted the first zero waste sporting event ever, earning a TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) certification from Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI).
The event: A May 30 NBA playoff game against the New York Knicks, sold out with 16,458 fans in attendance
In order to become TRUE certified, an event must meet requirements from GBCI. These requirements include having a zero waste policy in place, having achieved an average of 90 percent or greater overall diversion from landfill, incineration (waste-to-energy) and the environment for solid, non-hazardous wastes. The event must reduce, reuse, recycle, compost and/or recover for productive use in nature or the economy, and meet all federal, state/provincial, and local solid waste and recycling laws and regulations. In addition, the project complies with all air, water and land discharge permits required for collection, handling or processing of materials and meets or exceeds through data documenting of waste diversion efforts and measurements.
“As we continue our journey in making State Farm Arena a zero-waste venue, we are grateful for our staff and fans who all worked together to earn this certification from GBCI,” said Sofi Armenakian, Director of Sustainability and Operations for the Hawks and State Farm Arena, via press release. “We recognize how important it is for sports to create change and know this is just another way how a sports venue can contribute positively and act sustainably in their community.”
In this endeavor, the Hawks were assisted by various organizations such as the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM), which aids in creating various recycling solutions for the city of Atlanta. CompostNow who provides commercial composting solutions, including service ware, cutlery and packaging. In addition, the venue activated 15 volunteers, teachers from Jonesboro Middle School, who joined for the event as zero waste volunteers. In their roles, they aided guests at the venue in the process of properly sorting to reduce contamination. Additionally, Levy Restaurants, the official food and beverage partner of the Hawks and State Farm Arena, helped in the supply chain process. Pritchard Sports & Entertainment, the team’s official housekeeping partner, also assisted operationally with the collection and sorting of all materials.
In February 2021, Hawks and State Farm Arena successfully diverted 97 percent of fan-generated waste during the 2021 NBA All-Star Game with the help of Rubicon, a software platform that provides waste, recycling and smart city solutions to businesses and governments worldwide.
In June 2019, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced State Farm Arena received LEED Gold certification. At the time, USGBC and GBCI President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam presented Hawks and State Farm Arena CEO Steve Koonin with the designation plaque during the Greenbuild Atlanta Cultivation event at the venue.