Waste Management Phoenix Open’s approach to sustainability

By: November 30, 2017

Early this year, I have already shared with you that the 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open (held February 2-5th, 2017) will be an official pilot of the new sustainability standard for golf tournaments of the Golf Environment Organization.

Now, I can tell you that the Waste Management Phoenix Open became the first tournament in the world to attain “GEO Certified® Tournament” status from the GEO Foundation (GEO).

Waste Management Phoenix Open 2017 bins_v2

The Waste Management Phoenix Open followed principles that were described in the newly released “Voluntary Sustainable Golf Tournament Standard” and achieved outstanding results in 6 categories:

  1. Planning,
  2. Site Protection,
  3. Procurement,
  4. Resource Management,
  5. Access and Equity,
  6. and Community Legacy.

These are some of the sustainability highlights of the Waste Management Phoenix Open

  • 100% landfill diversion through recycling, composting, donation, reuse, and waste-to-energy.
  • 63.3 million gallons of water restored to the Colorado River Basin and Verde River through the Waste Management Phoenix Open Water Campaign with Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
  • 720 MtCO2e of carbon offsets with a strong socio-economic focus purchased, to cover more than double the emissions from tournament operations, player travel and volunteer travel.
  • Energy & transportation – 100% event carbon offsetting with Envirofit International, use of alternative fuel types (biodiesel, hybrid vehicles, etc), 100% of electricity powered by renewable energy sources.
  • Strong procurement efforts – increasing expectations from partners and manufacturers and strong contractual WMPO Requirements for Acceptable Materials.
  • Zero Waste Stations used to engage attendees, educating and encouraging involvement in sustainability.
  • An annual Waste Management Phoenix Open Sustainability Report with detailed metrics and program explanations.
  • Avenue Environmental Management Plan and commitment to become a fully GEO Certified® golf facility.
  • Protection of ecologically sensitive areas and minimized impact of temporary structures and heavy machinery through a Site Protection Plan.
  • Over $10.1 million raised and awarded to local charities through The Thunderbirds and $100,000 donated to environmental organizations from Green Out Day.
  • Fan involvement in charitable giving – e.g. Green Out day – $1 donation for every spectator wearing green.
  • Local youth engagement and free admission for local police, firefighters, active and retired military personnel.
  • 750,000 golf tees and 144,000 golf balls reused.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open tournament has been validated through in-depth third-party verification, including the Council for Responsible Sport, UL, and GEO. The Waste Management Phoenix Open achieved Gold, Evergreen and Evergreen Inspire over the past six years.

It is also important to know that the Waste Management Phoenix Open tournament is the best-attended golf tournament in the world. It hosts more than 650,000 fans annually.

Sports, in general, is threatened by heaving pollution or climate change, including extreme weather events (e.g. less snow, floods etc.). The loss of nature means also the loss of sports experience, in our case the golf experience.

I missed two things (or I missed them by mistake) from the above-mentioned achievements and best practices:

  1. The role/usage of PGA Tour professionals as a role model for sustainability.
  2. The training of the tournament staff members.

Your Turn!

What is your approach to sustainability in your golf club? Share with us your best practices and ideas!

2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open 16 and 17 Aerial