Dive Brief:

  • Recycle Track Systems (RTS) began a five-year contract with New York’s Citi Field by helping recover material from the NHL’s 2018 Winter Classic Jan. 1. This will be the first of many events, including games for the New York Mets, where RTS will help maximize diversion through on-site assistance and education.
  • At this particular event, RTS worked with NHL Green and volunteers from the Natural Resources Defense Council to collects recyclables from spectators each period. The event’s hauling partner was City Waste Services. These efforts also included sending 17,952 square feet of plywood from the hockey rink and 27 rolls of unused synthetic snow to city-run reuse center Materials for the Arts.
  • RTS CEO Gregory Lettieri said his team enjoyed the challenge of starting their Citi Field contract with one of the biggest events of the year. “It showed instant change moving over to us as a vendor,” he said in an interview with Waste Dive, adding that this experience could be valuable for other potential large venue contracts. “We’re evaluating different relationships and partnerships as we continue to grow in our new markets.”

Dive Insight:

Citi Field was held up as a sustainability example by New York’s Department of Sanitation for its food waste diversion efforts last summer and is a notable contract for RTS to pick up. The contract was previously held by Action Environmental Services and will now be serviced by other local haulers in the RTS network. This is the second sports venue for RTS, following a 2017 deal with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Other local clients include WeWork, SoulCycle, and the building that houses Google’s New York offices.

With recently opened offices in Philadelphia and the Washington, D.C. area, and plans for further expansion, the self-described technology company is hoping to cash in on the growing business sustainability trend. Their pitch includes the ability to track collection schedules, calculate diversion data and offer on-site training from multiple LEED-accredited staff members. As more cities begin to encourage or mandate higher diversion rates, these services are seen as being in higher demand.

This is also the case for NHL Green, which was founded with a focus on food recovery and currently works to support sustainability efforts for its 31 member clubs and arenas. Alicia Chin, senior manager of corporate social responsibility for the NHL, said they were aware of RTS because the New York Islanders play at the Barclays Center.

“We were thrilled to hear that they were going to be at Citi Field,” she said, noting that data collection is a growing priority for sustainability work at NHL arenas. “Gaining greater insights is key to building out those programs.”

According to Chin, this was also the first time that ice rink plywood from the Winter Classic had been donated to a reuse organization.

As demonstrated by other large-scale events, such as the Super Bowl and the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, achieving such results often comes down to careful advance planning. With reuse now a growing priority for New York, there will be plenty of other opportunities to get creative at Citi Field events in the future.

-Cole Rosengren | WasteDive