The colorful receptacles are set at the top of each section of seats in Frisco’s Pizza Hut Park. You can hardly miss them, and that’s the idea.
In Texas’ first green stadium, the theme is user-friendly, a keep-it-simple approach that seems to work quite well.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Oh, good! They recycle here,’” facility director Jeff Walls says. “And they’ll drop their bottle into the recycle can.”
In 2009, visitors did just that in impressive numbers. With 60-plus cans stationed in and outside the stadium, some 46 tons of recyclables were collected at FC Dallas soccer games, concerts, and other events, about 23 percent of the stadium’s 196 tons of disposables. By separating out plastic bottles, cardboard, office-type paper – essentially non-food tainted waste – the stadium enjoys a significant saving on items its patrons leave behind.
“We’re not going to get rich doing it, but it helps,” Walls said. “And I’ve never heard any negative feedback about the recycling program.”
Pizza Hut Park opened in August of 2005. Soon after, Frisco Environmental Services Manager Pippa Couvillion’s team wrote a Large Venue Recycling grant, which ultimately earned approval. After some planning, the first big push to go green came about in advance of MLS (Major League Soccer) Cup, which was held Nov. 12, 2006.
“We did an audit of the stadium’s waste operations after we received the grant and realized how we could help them change a few things,” Couvillion says. “We restructured their method of collection and improved overall efficiency. We purchased recycling receptacles that made a statement and stood out in the crowd.”
The distinctive cans feature a red, white, blue and green color scheme, including an image of a faceless FC Dallas player, arms raised in celebration. They also sport the message: “Kick in to win: Recycle.”
Couvillion and her staff offered more than helpful advice.
“They kind of took us by the hand,” Walls says. “At the first event we had, her department was at the compactor, offloading the trash trailers and divvying up the trash.”
Since then, recycling has become part of the Pizza Hut Park experience. Visitors have become accustomed to the colorful receptacles and how to divide up their items. Staff has become more efficient at post-event clean-up efforts, separating waste between the two blue compactors reserved for regular garbage and the green one earmarked for recyclables.
“I thought at the beginning that it would be tough to sort. And it isn’t,” Walls says. “We’ve been doing it for four years now, and it pretty much runs itself.”
While the recycling program is the most visible, it isn’t the only “green” aspect of Pizza Hut Park. Other initiatives include:
- All drainage from the seating bowl and field is funneled into a lift station and pumped into two retention ponds. The water saved is used to irrigate the field.
- Two wells on the property provide additional water for irrigation.
- Most lights throughout the facility are timed to go off at midnight except for special occasions.
- Indoor light switches are equipped with motion detectors, automatically turning off the lights in rooms not in use.
“Everybody is pretty involved,” Walls says.
In addition to saving money and reducing the stadium’s carbon footprint, going green has produced positive publicity for the park, inside the city, around North Texas, and in the sports and entertainment communities.
“It has really given them a leg-up in the market, because they’re now recognized for that program,” Couvillion says. “They are a ‘green’ stadium. A lot of the entertainers who book there want to know, ‘Are they green?’ Pizza Hut Park can respond that they are, and this has helped them promote the stadium.”
For Frisco, it’s yet another way of showing that environmental responsibility is more than just a nice idea: It can be good for business, too.
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