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State Farm Arena, Hawks divert 90% waste in 2021

Atlanta HawksQuite the impact: The Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and State Farm Arena diverted over 90 percent of waste generated at all events from landfills in 2021 in a quest to become a zero-waste venue.

Compare the 90-percent mark to 2019, when the arena diverted nearly 19 percent of all waste. That represents a major shift in operations and sustainability efforts for not only Hawks games but the entire slate of events. Still a target: operating as a TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) zero-waste venue (more on that below).

“As we continue our journey of becoming the first TRUE certified zero-waste venue in sports and live entertainment, diverting more than one million pounds in a calendar year is an incredible feat and brings us that much closer to our goal,” said Hawks and State Farm Arena Director of Sustainability and Operations Sofi Armenakian via press release. “We are extremely proud of the efforts and our partners, Novelis, Levy and Pritchard, who play an important role in achieving such a milestone in 2021.”

Here’s the breakdown of the sustainability efforts. State Farm Arena composted 365,290 pounds of materials, and recycled 165,623 pounds of bottles, cans, and food containers; 68,630 pounds of construction and demolition material (e.g., wood, stone, metal, insulation, carpet, marley, foamboard, etc.); and 122,125 pounds of cardboard. In addition, the venue has recycled 49,565 pounds of glass, 11,281 pounds of aluminum, and 3,194 pounds of plastic film; and recycled and donated 5,827 pounds of furniture and appliances. The Hawks have also donated 5,872 pounds of food (approximately 5,000 meals) and 3,576 pounds of old retail merchandise. Other materials were recycled, donated, composted and reused, bringing the total to 1,033,716 pounds.

Cited as a big part of the effort: a partnership with Novelis, which specializes in aluminum rolling and recycling and provided guidance and operational knowledge to organize, sort and recycle aluminum and other materials. The partnership has focused on promoting sustainability, responsible recycling and a circular economy.

“Achieving more than one million pounds diverted from landfills this quickly is awe inspiring,” said Novelis EVP & North American President Tom Boney via press release “We’re excited get more infinitely recyclable aluminum cups and cans into fans’ hands and further reinforce the value of recycling these products. Playing this role in the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena’s sustainability journey is an honor for us. This is one of many reasons why Novelis is proud to call Atlanta home.”

Coming back to operating as a zero-waste venue: the aforementioned TRUE standard was set by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the world’s leading sustainability and health certification and credentialing body. In June 2021, GCBI announced that Game 4 of the Atlanta Hawks’ first-round playoff series last May against the New York Knicks earned TRUE certification, marking the first time a sporting event has received the designation. The game was sold out with 16,458 fans in attendance.