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Environmental Meeting Profiles

Recyclers Lead the Way at National Recycling Coalition Congress

During the National Recycling Coalition's (NRC's) 1995 annual congress in Kansas City, Missouri, participants had the opportunity to practice recycling first hand. They welcomed the opportunity to toss cans and bottles into recycling bins, drink coffee from complimentary thermal mugs, and read agendas printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks.

The event site, the Kansas City Convention Center, did not have a recycling program. NRC worked with the center's managers to institute a permanent recycling program--starting 9 months before the actual event--to collect aluminum, corrugated cardboard, mixed paper, clear and colored glass, plastic, and polystyrene. In addition, NRC collected food and food-contaminated paper waste for composting. The Air Force ran a composting pilot project with the NRC's food waste, the compost from which was given back to NRC to donate to charity.

Along with recycling, NRC reduced and reused materials. Reusable name tag holders and mugs, printed with a sponsor's logo, were distributed. Caterers were asked to use reusable dishware, utensils, and napkins as frequently as possible. They provided straws and drink stirrers only upon request. Exhibitors were kept informed of exact attendance levels so that they would bring the correct number of distribution materials, to cut down on the amount of materials that might be thrown away after the event.

NRC started looking at the environmental impacts of its yearly meetings in 1990 and has increased its efforts every year since. Environmental priorities have become a matter of policy for NRC's events and meetings.

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Walking the Walk: National Tribal Pollution Prevention Conference

Participants in the August 1995 National Tribal P2 Conference in Billings, Montana, received more than just lectures and networking opportunities. For three days, they lived a lesson in environmentally aware planning that they could take back to their tribal communities. Conference planners highlighted their "green conference" considerations in conference materials, asking attendees to participate in a full recycling program and reminding them that their personal habits can save energy and reduce waste.

Rather than printing enough conference programs to accommodate any possible attendance, conference planners matched their print run to the number of registered attendees. Speakers agreed not to hand out written resources; instead they provided materials only upon request. This encourages conversations between speakers and members of the audience and ensures that only interested parties receive printed matter. In addition, the hotel food service agreed to use china and glassware in lieu of disposables for indoor events. The hotel, fearful of liability for any injuries caused by broken glass or crockery, wanted to use paper cups and plates for the outdoor buffalo feast. However, conference planners convinced them to at least use ceramic plates.

Mindful that even the most successful waste reduction strategies would not eliminate all trash, conference planners negotiated with their waste hauler to provide recycling services for the event. The hauler supplied containers for recyclable glass, plastic, aluminum, and paper. In exchange for use of the containers and for collecting the recyclables, the hauler received the revenues from the recycled commodities. The conference program urged participants to use the recycling bins and, when possible, to avoid the purchase and use of materials destined for a waste stream.

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Scoring for the Environment: CU Buffaloes Football Game

Imagine you're at a Big Eight football game with 50,000 other cheering fans. Suddenly the scoreboard flashes an "environmental savings report" telling you how many natural resources have been saved as a result of recycling during the game. This is just one of the ways that the University of Colorado (CU) Recycling Program, called CU Recycling, educates football fans about the environmental impact of their recycling efforts.

CU Recycling promotes active recycling in the stadium in a variety of ways. Before the games, recycling staff with handcarts rove the parking lots to collect recyclables from tailgate parties and inform the partygoers about the environmental savings to which they're contributing, such as sav-ing a gallon and a half of gas by recycling a case of aluminum cans. Other recyclable materials are separated by concessions or stadium staff. CU Recycling runs ads in the game programs and in the game-day edition of the campus newspaper to remind people to recycle. They also sponsor media spots featuring Buffalo team members promoting the recycling program. These efforts enable CU Recycling to recover and recycle 20 percent of the stadium's waste.

To make sure CU Recycling is reaping the economic benefit of diverting waste from disposal, the program carefully monitors trash disposal containers before pick-up. This enables CU Recycling to reduce the volume and cost of its trash disposal contract. Looking to the future, the cleanup crews and CU's Design School are working to design a collection container with separate compart-ments for trash and recyclables that clean-up crews can carry with them.

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