Waste Management golf tournament recognized for sustainability

The GEO certification is the highest international award for sustainability in golf.

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November 8, 2018
Edited by Theresa Cottom

The 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open, held in Scottsdale, Arizona Jan. 29 through Feb. 4, has recently announced it was named a “Geo Certified Tournament” by the North Berwick, Scotland-based GEO Foundation.

Tournament officials say the designation is the highest international award for sustainability in golf, and the tournament received the award for its efforts to balance environmental impacts, conserve natural resources and benefit the local community.

To become “GEO Certified,” the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the largest attended tournament on the PGA TOUR, completed a custom-built program for golf tournaments, which included: document and evidence submission; a third-party verification carried out by the Council for Responsible Sport (the official verification body for GEO Certified Tournaments in North America); a thorough review by GEO; and agreement to a range of continual improvement points.

In conjunction with the GEO announcement, Houston-based Waste Management published the 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open Sustainability Report with detailed metrics and program explanations.

Sustainability highlights from the 2018 tournament include:

• 100 percent landfill diversion through recycling, composting, donation, reuse and waste-to-energy.

• 75 million gallons of water restored to the Verde River through the Waste Management Phoenix Open Water Campaign with Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Change the Course.

• Approximately 6,353 gallons of grey water captured for reuse from kitchens across the course and hospitality bars on the 16th hole.

• Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity from Arizona Public Service, using solar power for smart energy compactors and some light fixtures around the course and fueling generators and some shuttle buses with biodiesel. In addition, most of Waste Management’s trucks used to haul materials from the tournament were fueled by compressed natural gas.

• Offsetting 100 percent of the tournament’s carbon footprint, making the Waste Management Phoenix Open a carbon-neutral event. The offset greenhouse gas emissions came from tournament operations, professional and amateur player travel, vendor travel and volunteer travel.

• Zero-waste stations constructed from repurposed containers that engaged attendees, educating and encouraging involvement in sustainability.

• A TPC Scottsdale Environmental Management Plan and commitment to become a GEO Certified® golf facility.

• Protection of ecologically sensitive areas and minimizing impact of temporary structures and heavy machinery through a TPC Scottsdale Site Protection Plan.

• $12.2 million raised and awarded to local charities through The Thunderbirds and $100,000 donated to environmental organizations from Green Out Day.

• Local youth engagement and free admission for local police, firefighters and active and retired military personnel.

The 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open was the first tournament in the world to attain “GEO Certified Tournament” status. With the 2018 recertification, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the first two-time “GEO Certified” tournament.

In addition to the GEO certification, the 2018 tournament also maintained Evergreen Inspire status with the Council for Responsible Sport, based in Portland, Oregon. The Waste Management Phoenix Open was the first PGA TOUR tournament to achieve both the GEO and Evergreen certifications and remains the largest event ever to achieve this level of recognition.

For the sixth straight year, Northbrook, Illinois-based Underwriters Laboratories (UL) provided a third-party verification of the event’s waste diversion. UL verified supply chain and material management, awarding the tournament “100 percent landfill diversion rate with 9 percent incineration with energy recovery.” The Waste Management Phoenix Open maintained its status as the largest verified zero-waste event in the world.

“We’re thrilled to be recognized as a leader in sustainability and welcome new innovation in the industry,” says 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open Tournament Chairman Carlos Sugich in a news release. “Our incredible partnership with our title sponsor Waste Management has empowered our tournament to provide inspiration for our peers and create a working model for the foreseeable future.”

“At the Waste Management Phoenix Open, ‘zero’ isn’t just associated with waste,” says Michele Grossman, the managing principal of sustainability services for Waste Management. “We aim to lower natural resources used and greenhouse gas emissions. Always innovating, we have expanded our water conservation efforts through additional grey water collection points, … powered the tournament with 100 percent renewable energy and offset the rest of our carbon and water footprint.”

“The Waste Management Phoenix Open continues to drive innovation and results, a true pioneer of what can be achieved through sustainable golf tournaments,” says Jonathan Smith, the executive director of GEO. “The 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open can claim a position as a credible and important leader in advancing sustainability in and through golf – helping foster nature, conserve resources and strengthen communities while also supporting and showcasing sustainability in front of a large international audience.  We can certainly track evidence of wider action in sustainable golf events back to the leadership displayed here.”