America’s Cup World Series attains great results achieving goals of Zero Waste Plan

AC Village Sustainability © ACEA 2012 / Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

The second America’s Cup World Series regatta in San Francisco last October, held in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators simultaneously with Fleet Week, is being hailed as a flagship example for a sustainable event in San Francisco.

San Francisco is one of the most sustainable cities in North America, and Mayor Ed Lee recently announced that the City has reached 80 percent landfill diversion rates. According to Recology, San Francisco’s employee-owned recycling company, the October America’s Cup World Series event achieved a remarkable 98 percent landfill diversion rate. The 2013 America’s Cup has the goal of delivering a zero waste event next summer.

“With the City of San Francisco’s current diversion rate at 80 percent, we have raised the bar for any event that comes to San Francisco,” said Melanie Nutter, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “The America’s Cup has worked to align their event with our city’s zero waste values and their latest diversion rate of 98 percent represents an unprecedented success for an event in this city. We look forward to continue working with America’s Cup organizers to reduce waste generated and increase waste diversion for next year’s big America’s Cup events in San Francisco.”

Watch behind the scenes video of the landfill diversion efforts:

The first America’s Cup World Series regatta in San Francisco in August allowed organizers to test strategies and learn lessons in managing discarded material generated at the event. Improvements were implemented for the second America’s Cup World Series event in San Francisco in October, which led to such impressive results.

“The America’s Cup did a fantastic job working with vendors to reduce waste, and set up some of the most convenient and functional recycling stations ever seen in San Francisco,” said Rich Borghello of Recology, which provided bins and advised on efficient methods to collect discarded material around the regatta village. “Everyone associated with the event embraced San Francisco’s ethic of recycling and composting more and sending a little as possible to landfill.”

The goal was to reduce the amount of waste generated from around the regatta village and then divert materials away from landfill through reuse, recycling and composting. Best management practices were implemented, such as use of customized recycle stations with blue (recycle), black (landfill) and green (compost) signage and bins readily visible around the regatta village.

The America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) went to extra lengths attempting to minimize the footprint of the regatta village. For example, ACEA and Recology developed a plastic film recycling plan – a material not normally recycled in the City’s programs – which included staff and vendor training, separate containers and collection pickups. Recology estimates that 0.68 tons of plastic film was prevented from reaching landfill.

From the first day of set up at the Little Marina Green/Yacht Road venue (September 24) through two days after the event concluded (October 10), the following discarded materials were collected and diverted from landfill:

  • Total Material Generated – 13.44 tons

  • To Recycle – 9.89 tons

  • To Compost – 3.28 tons

  • To Landfill – 0.27 tons

  • Diversion Rate – 98 percent

The San Francisco Department of the Environment consulted with ACEA officials and developed the event Zero Waste Plan. Collaboration with SF Environment and Recology has worked very well, and the ACEA will continue this effort as plans are developed for 2013.

ACEA also has partnered with Sailors for the Sea as the Official Clean Regattas Partner of the 34th America’s Cup, and has committed to implementing their Clean Regatta program. Clean Regattas certification provides independent, third-party verification that a yacht club, sailing program, or regatta is environmentally responsible, and is doing its utmost to protect the waters upon which people sail. The Clean Regatta program includes best practices such as recycling, composting and litter free events.