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HP Pavilion at San Jose/Shark Tank: An Arena Recycling Success

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It all started with the game guys talking with the trash guys.

In 2001, the HP Pavilion’s event managers developed a plan with Waste Management – the Pavilion’s trash contractor – to improve the recycling program at the arena. Through cooperation, HP Pavilion at San Jose and Waste Management created a far more effective recycling program that now also includes an impressive composting component. For HP Pavilion, better recycling and the startup of a composting program turned out to be significantly cheaper than landfill disposal.

HP Pavilion

The HP Pavilion recycles all glass and plastics from the concessions, the restaurants and the bar areas. The venue also provides receptacles for glass and aluminum in the executive suites. Employees pick up the recyclables from the suites after the events. HP Pavilion management recognizes that simply providing recycling containers will not work in other parts of the arena. Even if a recycling container is situated next to a trash can, trash and recyclables are usually commingled. To solve this problem, the arena has a post-game pick-up to gather recyclable beverage containers left in the seating area.

The HP Pavilion currently has a 4-cubic-yard container for glass and mixed plastics that is emptied up to three times a week. They also have a 3-cubic-yard bin for mixed paper that is picked up once a week, and a cardboard baler which is used to bale up to nine tons of cardboard a month.

The HP Pavilion also has a 34-cubic-yard trash compactor which is taken to a facility where much of the material is composted by GreenWaste Recovery. Not everything gets recycled: the arena still uses a 40-cubic-yard bin for the trash that is not recycled or composted.

The most expensive part of the building’s recycling program is the labor investment in the post-game pick-up of the seating area. At HP Pavilion, this is done by their own in-house Building Services staff. While post-event pick-up of recyclable materials does require initial training of the custodial staff, it is the most efficient way to recapture the large number of plastics from the venue’s seating area.In 2000, before revamping its recycling program, HP Pavilion recycled up to 15% of its waste. By 2002, HP Pavilion had diverted almost 97% – nearly all of its waste – from landfill disposal through recycling and composting.

Next steps for HP Pavilion include finding guest-friendly recycling bins; EPA is helping the Pavilion find bins that are small enough to put out in the public areas of the arena.

The key to successful recycling program is having a recycling champion inside the venue organization, and at HP Pavilion it is Monte Chavez. Monte has agreed to talk with venue managers and operations directors interested in starting or improving recycling programs at their facilities.

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