Phoenix Open golf tournament thrives in sustainability efforts
The 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open has become the first golf tournament in the world to be recognised by the Scottish Golf Environmental Organisation for its impressive sustainability performance.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open is the largest attended tournament on the PGA Tour- an organiser of professional golf tours in the US and North America, and it recently attained the GEO Certified Tournament status from the Scotland-based Golf Environmental Organisation (GEO).
Phoenix Open and Waste Management partnered over 20 years ago to address environmental performance in the tournament, which culminated in Waste Management becoming the title sponsor for the event in 2010.
To become a “GEO Certified Tournament” the Waste Management Phoenix Open adopted the principles of the ‘Voluntary Sustainable Golf Tournament Standard’, set out by GEO, and the tournament achieved high results in six categories: planning, site protection, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy.
The tournament has set up an inclusive strategy, addressing both environmental and social sustainability.
One of the landmark sustainability achievements of the tournament is the diverting of 100 percent of its waste from landfill through recycling, composting, donation, reuse, and through processing waste-to energy.
It has previously been awarded the “Zero Waste to Landfill” status after managing to conserve 632 mature trees, more than 360,000 gallons of water and 969 cubic yards of landfill space in one year through recycling, reusing and incineration.
Ever since it launched the zero waste challenge in 2014 it has received and maintained this status despite being the highest-attended venue on the PGA Tour.
Janette Micelli from Waste Management explained that the organisation is using this case study to prove that nothing is impossible. She said that “if you can do this with 600,000 plus fans you can do this everywhere”.
Through carbon offsets of 720 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) the organisers offset more than double the emissions from tournament operations, player travel and volunteer travel.
The tournament venue operates under an Environmental Management Plan and a Site Protection Plan, which aims to protect ecologically sensitive areas through minimising the impact of temporary structures and heavy machinery.
To date, over $10.1 million has been raised and awarded to local charities with $100,000 donated to environmental organisations. Fans are also engaged during every event through special ‘Zero Waste Stations’ which are used to educate and train the attendees on issues around sustainability.
All the sustainability efforts of the tournament have been gone through in-depth third party verification including the Council for Responsible Sport and UL- a safety science company.
Paula Davey, Director of Sales and Marketing at Waste Management, said: “The achievement is another proud milestone for our organization and reinforces the Waste Management Phoenix Open as the ‘Greenest Show on Grass’”.
She added: “Waste Management not only wants to stand out as a leading environmental services provider, but we hope to change how golf tournaments and communities view sustainability everywhere”.
Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of GEO Foundation said: “There is absolutely no doubt that the Waste Management Phoenix Open deserves this accolade. If you look at the breadth and depth of what they have done to date, and the social and environmental targets they have set for the future, they are clearly leading in the practical delivery of sustainability in and through golf, as well as inspiring so many others, in golf, in business and in the community”.
He added: “The Waste Management Phoenix Open has pushed some boundaries of how sports events can engage fans on environmental issues, and they are raising the bar for where other tournaments aspirations could be set”.