National Sports Center
What: Purchasing a cardboard baler, recycling bins, and signage to cover all outdoor and indoor space.
Why: To reduce their environmental impact and minimize waste, setting an example for similar facilities.
How: Received Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Business Environmental Sustainability Grant to purchase a cardboard baler, set up an environmental fund, and purchase bins and signage.
Results: Diverting 269,360 pounds of recyclable material from the landfill and significant educational outreach.
The National Sports Center in Blaine is a 600-acre multi-sport complex that is comprised of over 50 grass soccer fields, eight-sheet ice arena, 18-hole golf course, cycling velodrome and 100,000 square feet of indoor training and meeting space. With 200 employees and over 4 million visitors every year, diverting as much waste as possible has become a high priority for the staff at the National Sports Center.
With significant volumes of cardboard, paper, and bottles, National Sports Center noticed that they had great potential to drastically minimize their waste while avoiding the high taxes associated with trash collection. Onsite consultation was first completed by the Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation, a program of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and Anoka County, to make the Center compliant with the recycling mandate for sports venues, effective January 1, 2015. It was clear that the National Sports Center had significant opportunities to not only increase their recycling diversion, but to also first reduce their waste output.
Waste Wise and the National Sports Center have been in communication for a number of years, but starting in the spring of 2015, collaboration was underway to implement changes to optimize their waste reduction efforts, and serve as an example for similar facilities. With the assistance of the Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation, the National Sports Center applied and was approved for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Business Environmental Sustainability Grant, allowing them to cover the purchasing costs of a cardboard baler. As a result of receiving profit from their cardboard waste, the company committed to diverting all of their revenue to a new fund for handing waste and environmental issues at the Center.
With a variety of different facilities and venues at the National Sports Center, grant funding was additionally used to cover the costs of customizing their own signage for the ice arenas and purchasing recycling carts for the outside grounds, the driving range, and at every tee box along the golf course.
The National Sports Center is now diverting an impressive 269,360 pounds of recycling from the landfill, yet it is equally as important to remember the less measurable effects of this program. Each of the 200 employees and 4 million visitors are given the opportunity to recycle and are better educated about reducing waste, impacting how they handle their waste at work and home and ultimately influencing their purchasing decisions. Minnesota Waste Wise and the National Sports Complex will continue to be in close collaboration; together they will improve the program as needed with consistent staff trainings to ensure they are optimizing their waste reduction efforts and the programs continue to be both efficient and successful.