DEL MONTE FOREST, Calif. — Everything about the U.S. Open is massive, including the amount of trash that will be generated during the week-long event.The 250,000 fans estimated to pass through the gates of the Open are expected to buy food, bottled water and packaged souvenirs. Spectator trash, in combination with the temporary infrastructure that will be torn down when the golfers leave, will amount to some serious tonnage headed out to local waste management.
Monterey Regional Waste Management District does not have an estimate on the tonnage of waste it will receive but it does have a plan in place to divert 70 percent of it towards recycling and reuse.
"We started seeing food waste loads from the event, they started showing up yesterday from disposal loads also coming in, and then I think we've also seen some of the recyclable materials showing up here," said Jeff Lindenthal with MRWMD.
Lindenthal said the food waste is being composted and much of the service ware is also compostable. Plastics and other recyclables are being sorted on site at Pebble Beach before the reach waste management thanks to massive manpower on the part of Pebble Beach Company and its contractor Blue Strike Environmental.
"I think you are seeing this more and more in professional sports, this move to be more sustainable," said Rico Tesio with Blue Strike.
Sporting events generate huge amounts of waste in terms of both trash and recyclables. According to a Cardiff University study, average sporting event attendees generate a footprint seven times greater than someone going about normal, everyday life.
Tesio said in recent years consumers and corporate sponsors have been pushing for green solutions. Blue Strike has been integral in coordinating the disposal of the infrastructure material when the Open is over next week.
A small village has been built out on the greens at Pebble Beach with a massive players locker room, media center, merchandise tent and concessions stands. About 250,000 square feet of carpet alone was used in the construction.
Following the Open, the carpet, wood and plastic fencing will be salvaged and hopefully reused. The materials will be taken to Last Chance Mercantile out at MRWMD and what doesn't sell will be recycled through the construction material recycling program.
To make this happen United States Golf Association, Blue Strike and Pebble Beach Company started working with MRWMD more than a year in advance. And fortunately, the Marina facility is one of the few in the country that has made the effort to find markets for recyclables.
Spectators out on the course can do their part too by making sure their waste is disposed of in the proper bins. Fans can also bring their own water bottle however, the USGA's rules on bringing your own bottle are not very green. Only empty clear plastic bottles are allowed through the gates.
The USGA also prohibits other green alternatives including containers and outside food with exceptions made only for medical needs and infants.