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State Farm Arena sets world first with zero-waste certification

State Farm Arena, home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, has become the first sports and entertainment venue in the world to be awarded TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Platinum certification by the Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI).

The GBCI is the world’s leading sustainability and health certification and credentialing body. It offers four levels of TRUE certification: Certified (31-37 points), Silver (38-45 points), Gold (46-63 points) and Platinum (64-81 points).

State Farm Arena is the first venue to be awarded Platinum certification having earned near the maximum number of points across a variety of categories including redesign, reduce, reuse, compost (re-earth), recycle, zero-waste reporting, diversion (minimum 90%), zero-waste purchasing, leadership, training, zero-waste analysis, upstream management, hazardous waste prevention, closed loop system and innovation.

In 2019, State Farm Arena diverted only an average of 10% of its total waste but since May 2021, the venue has consistently diverted a minimum of 90% of fan-generated waste from landfills.

In November, the arena appointed aluminium company Novelis as a sustainability partner as part of its efforts to become a zero-waste venue. Novelis specialises in aluminium rolling and recycling and has helped State Farm Arena achieve the GBCI certification.

The Hawks and State Farm Arena have also been assisted by local vendors such as CompostNow, which provides commercial composting solutions, and Haulin’ Glass Recycling, which provides glass recycling services. Levy Restaurants, the venue’s food and beverage partner, also helped in the supply chain process, while Pritchard Sports & Entertainment, the venue’s official housekeeping partner, assisted operationally with the collection and sorting of all materials.

Other businesses involved in the effort include Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Salvation Army, WestRock, Waste Management, SA Recycling, Lighting Resources LLC and Rubicon Global. The locally-based Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) also created various recycling solutions for the arena.

Brett Stefansson, Hawks executive vice-president and general manager at State Farm Arena, said: “We are honoured to receive TRUE Platinum certification from GBCI as we continue to set the standard as a global leader in the sports and entertainment industry.”

Peter Templeton, president and chief executive of the US Green Building Council and GBCI, added: “By pursuing zero waste, State Farm Arena and the Atlanta Hawks recognise the positive impacts of reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills helping us build a sustainable future.

“Waste impacts all facets of business and changing the way that we use resources will deliver public health benefits, reduce our environmental impact and advance a greener economy. Sports leagues and teams reach large audiences and have the power to expose everyday audiences to sustainability strategies like zero waste.”

In February, State Farm Arena teamed up with Billie Eilish and Live Nation to produce the first zero-waste sold-out event on the singer’s ‘Happier Than Ever, The World Tour’.

Image: Warren LeMay/CC0 1.0/Edited for size