2012 Waste Expo Coverage

Long before the New York Giants and New England Patriots tackled each other during Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, local businesses and a crew of volunteers joined forces to sack soda cans, food waste and other recyclables in preparation for the hoards of fans that would descend upon the city.

A series of recycling measures instituted by the 2012 Super Bowl Environmental Programs Committee at event sites like Lucas Oil Stadium — the site of the game — Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Indiana Convention Center, ESPN’s facility and the Super Bowl Village led to the collection of 144 tons of recyclables, said Carey Hamilton, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition and co-chair of the committee.

The figure accounts for items recovered between Jan. 23 and Feb. 9, the day of the Super Bowl.

Hamilton said the committee made sure bins throughout the Super Bowl Village were properly marked with signs that provided “a clear visual of what could be recycled” and placed them near trash cans.

 Lone recycling containers could be mistaken for regular trash bins and attract contamination, she said.

Hotels and restaurants also placed signs in their windows letting everyone know they were participating in the recycling effort.

“It was a unique component of our Super Bowl compared to any Super Bowl in our history,” said Hamilton. “Without a doubt, it was the most comprehensive volunteer system behind the planning. We, with our many committee members (we had a recycling committee of volunteers), came up with plans that went above and beyond basic recycling in the village.”

Hamilton will share her Super Bowl experience during her presentation, “The Party’s Over, Let Recycling Begin: Event Management,” at this year’s Waste Expo in Las Vegas.

Eric Hise, senior pricing and operational analyst for Texas Disposal Systems, also will present.

Hamilton was tabbed for the position 2 1/2 years before the Super Bowl arrived in Indy.

It then took several months to pick committee members and map out a plan of action, she said.

Although things turned out well in the end, the committee did face some challenges along the way.

Hamilton said some of the off-site venues weren’t equipped for recycling, so they had to deliver bins and educate staff at those locations to ensure the materials were removed properly.

Committee members did random inspections of recycling bins during festivities and found little contamination, she said.

“I feel fortunate we were able to accomplish a lot of what we originally dreamed would be possible,” she said. “It certainly wasn’t everything, but we’re proud of having a significant diversion and having been able to track that diversion, which had not happened at previous Super Bowls in the comprehensive way that it had at this one.”

Hise said the biggest event he handles is the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which stepped up its recycling efforts in 2005 – the first year Texas Disposal collected waste at the event.

The company hauled seven tons of recyclables in 2005, and it doubled that total the next year. By 2011, the event recycled nearly 67% of its waste. Food composting was also added to the event two years ago.

Hise said every event is different, so there’s no “silver bullet” strategy that works each time out. Event waste crews have to keep an open mind and avoid “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole,” he said.

He also urged companies not to lose focus of their ultimate goal.

“The reason they hired you was to make their recyclables at their event disappear,” Hise said. “If you leave waste behind, you didn’t do your job.”

Something for everyone at Waste Expo

Competitive juices will surely flow during the 2012 Waste Expo – and not just at the craps tables.

Expo attendees with commercial driver’s licenses can hop in a Mack truck during the company’s Driving Skills Safety Challenge, and test themselves on a course in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s parking lot on May 1 and May 2.

Drivers will face seven events, including pre-trip inspection, turning radius and reversing accuracy, on a course that will “emulate a job site,” said Rita Ugianskis-Fishman, managing director of Penton Media’s Waste Industry Group, the Expo’s organizer.

Attendance numbers are trending upward for Waste Expo, even as companies work with tighter budgets in a sluggish economy. Ugianskis-Fishman said it’s a testament to the quality of the Expo’s proceedings.

Plus, there’s always excitement whenever the show heads to Las Vegas, she said.

Spectators will have 43 sessions to choose from, with topics ranging from the updated patent law enacted in September 2011 to an examination of when companies should, and shouldn’t, outsource operations.

The sessions will give companies a look at what’s coming in the future and how to prepare, said Alice Jacobsohn, director of education for Environmental Industry Associations, an event sponsor.

“The intent of our program is to provide information on things that are coming down the pike, to look at daily operations and help companies to do two things: One, either get feedback on what it is they are already doing from others, either [from those] in the industry or experts through our speakers, and the second piece is to provide them with information on how they might go about doing things.”

Another key session will focus on low rolling resistance tires, which refuse and recycling trucks will be required to use after 2014 to comply with federal fuel efficiency standards.

“What tires do you need to use? What does this mean? It can make a difference when you’re switching tires from the back of the truck to the front to get more use out of them,” Jacobsohn said.

Since the Expo is packed with activities, it may not be possible for attendees to see each session. So for the first time, every session will be recorded and made available through an OnDemand Video Library.

“This way, people no longer need to make a choice when they come to Waste Expo. Let’s face it, people can’t clone themselves,” Ugianskis-Fishman said.

 PDF: Super Bowl, PDF: Waste Expo 2012