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Atlanta Hawks Reaches One Million Pounds of Waste Diverted Using Recycling, Donation Practices

NBA basketball team the Atlanta Hawks announced yesterday that it has crossed the one-million-pound milestone of waste avoided at its State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The team used strategies such as recycling, donations, and the employment of sustainable products to divert more than 1,033,716 pounds of waste from landfills throughout its 2021 slate of basketball games, concerts and ancillary events. By prioritizing changes in its operations and sustainability efforts, the Hawks drastically improved its waste-diversion rate, from 10% in 2019 to more than 90%  on any given game day or event day throughout the entire slate of events.

Since the summer of 2021, the Hawks and State Farm Arena have worked closely with Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, who has continued to provide guidance and operational knowledge to organize, sort and recycle aluminum and other materials. The partnership has focused on promoting sustainability, responsible recycling and a circular economy.  

“Achieving more than one million pounds diverted from landfills this quickly is awe inspiring,” said Novelis EVP & North American President Tom Boney. “We’re excited to get more infinitely recyclable aluminum cups and cans into fans’ hands and further reinforce the value of recycling these products. Playing this role in the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena’s sustainability journey is an honor for us. This is one of many reasons why Novelis is proud to call Atlanta home.”

The Hawks began their sustainability partnership with Novelis last November with the aim of becoming a “TRUE zero-waste venue”: a designation given by leading credentialing organization Green Business Certification, Inc. To qualify, venues must “achieve an average 90% or greater overall diversion from landfill, incineration (waste-to-energy), and the environment for solid, non-hazardous wastes.”

To this end, the Hawks have undertaken numerous waste-reduction measures, including:

  • Switching from single-stream to multi-stream recycling.
  • Switching from black recycling bags to clear recycling bags.
  • Replacing its gift shop plastic bags with 100% compostable cardboard paper bags.
  • Providing educational materials to its guests on the importance of sustainability and responsible recycling habits.

In 2021, State Farm Arena composted 365,290 pounds of materials, and recycled 165,623 pounds of bottles, cans, and food containers; 68,630 pounds of construction and demolition material (e.g., wood, stone, metal, insulation, carpet, marley, foamboard, etc.); and 122,125 pounds of cardboard. In addition, the venue has recycled 49,565 pounds of glass, 11,281 pounds of aluminum, and 3,194 pounds of plastic film; and recycled and donated 5,827 pounds of furniture and appliances. The Hawks have also donated 5,872 pounds of food (approximately 5,000 meals) and 3,576 pounds of old retail merchandise. Other materials were recycled, donated, composted and reused to bring the total to 1,033,716 pounds.

Given the ever-increasing emphasis on sustainability, many stadiums are taking action to green their operations. Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas began using recyclable aluminum cups last November. Arsenal Football Club in England announced in August 2020 that it had cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 10.7 million kilos in four years using renewably sourced energy and battery storage. A month prior, Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts switched to energy efficient servers to cut its emissions. 

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