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[GreenYes] Going for the Gold: GRRN Olympics Zero Waste Update
Apologies for Cross-Postings

I have been working for the GrassRoots Recycling Network
(GRRN) to monitor the plans for the Salt Lake Olympics to
achieve their stated goal of Zero Waste to landfills or
incinerators. This is an update based on communication
with Olympics organizers and a briefing by Coca Cola at
the National Recycling Congress in Seattle on January 15.

In July of 2001, the California Resource Recovery
Association (CRRA) and GRRN applauded the Salt Lake
Olympics Committee (SLOC) adoption of a goal of zero
waste, but expressed concerns about the proposed system to
achieve that goal. In particular, CRRA and GRRN were
concerned that:
- the planned system has visitors mixing recyclables
with trash in a "one-bin" collection system in the
public areas;
- the Zero Waste goal will only have value if a more
comprehensive plan for reducing waste and reusing,
recycling and composting materials collected is
implemented; and
- SLOC must significantly modify its purchasing,
service and education plans for the Olympics if it is
to describe this as a Zero Waste system.

CRRA and GRRN called on SLOC to establish a Zero
Waste Advisory Committee to obtain the expertise needed
to expand its plans, and to make public on a timely basis all
the tonnages of waste generated, diverted and landfilled
from the Olympics.

SLOC responded to calls for improvements by CRRA,
GRRN and others and convened a meeting of recycling
experts in a Recycling Forum on August 16, 2001. The
Forum addressed many of CRRA and GRRN's concerns,
and made many recommendations for changes in SLOC's
plans. After that meeting, in August 2001, GRRN said that
it was unlikely that SLOC could come close to achieving
Zero waste without adopting the recommendations of the
Recycling Forum.

It's now clear that SLOC has adopted the Recycling
Forum's recommendations to implement their Zero Waste
goals. Most importantly, they moved from a one-bin to a
two-bin system in the public areas, and they have designed
waste out of the system in certain areas. SLOC also
mandates that vendors limit the amount of waste they
produce while servicing the games.

There will be very tight security at the Olympics venues -
no food or beverages will be allowed on-site from outside.
Participants will go through magnetic screens (like at
airports) and searches of bags. No food and beverages will
be allowed in from the public, and no glass of any kind. As
a result, this is a unique situation where SLOC has used
waste stream engineering to ensure that beverage
containers and plates used in public areas will be 100%
recyclable or compostable.

Paper cold drink cups being used are coated with a new
100% biodegradable plastic coating made from renewable
corn starch (Matter B). SLOC is also piloting new clear
biodegradable "plastic" cups made from plant starch using
Cargill Dow PLA technology. Plates to be used in public
areas will be made of compostable paper. Plastic bags used
for collecting materials will be biodegradable bags from
Plastic Solutions.

The only closed beverage containers to be sold on the
Olympics venues will be plastic bottles that are part of a
closed loop recycling system. These bottles will be the first
ones at an Olympics event in North America to use plastic
Coca Cola bottles made with some recycled content (10%).
All non-alcoholic plastic beverage bottles collected from
the Olympics venues will be recycled back into new
bottles. The clear, green and blue bottles from the
Olympics will be processed by Merlin in Alberta, Canada
and Phoenix Technologies in Bowling Green, Ohio, into
food grade plastic materials.

The 2-sort system will have a "bottles & cans" bin next to
all the "mixed recyclables" bins in the public areas. All the
bins are clearly labelled. The "bottles & cans" bins also
have distinctive dome lids, with a hole on an angle clearly
designed only for plastic bottles and cans. SLOC is also
prepared to add separate bins for paper anywhere SLOC
sees paper being generated in public areas.

In "back of house" areas, SLOC will be source separating
many materials where they are produced in large quantities,
- Corrugated cardboard
- Mixed paper (e.g., from the Main Media Center and offices)
- Bottles and cans- Shrink wrap from pallets
- Food discards from the Athlete's Village.

SLOC has contracted with a recycler and composter (GVR-
Green Valley Recycle & Compost, LLC) that has built a
recycling and composting system that is contractually
committed to recovering 85% of the waste it receives.
GVR has arranged for 2 composting sites: one in Davis
County next to Wasatch Landfill and one near the Salt Lake
City airport, close to GVR's materials recovery facility on
the grounds of Weyerhaeuser. GVR will use a variety of
composting technologies, including package commercial
systems (e.g., Naturetech and Earth Tubs), and an aerated
static pile.

GVR will also be paid incentives for tonnages recovered
greater than 85%. These requirements and incentives
hopefully will result in greater than 90% overall waste
diversion, which is the current GRRN standard to be
considered a Zero Waste business. The composting system
also is planned to remain after the Olympics, as an environmental legacy
from SLOC to the host community. The SLOC Recycling
Forum encouraged communities in the area to collect
commercial food discards from restaurants, hotels, and
venues for special events after the Olympic Games for
composting in this system.

Recycled content building materials were used in the
construction of the 3 buildings that needed to be built for
the Olympics. C&D materials that are expected are
cardboard, wood, cabling and carpet. SLOC has arranged
for the recycling of all those materials, including requiring
carpet contractors to takeback their carpets at the end of the
events. SLOC will sell equipment and furniture at the
dissolution of SLOC at the end of March 2002.

SLOC has done extensive training of its staff on how to use
the Zero Waste system. SLOC will also place flyers in
operations areas to remind the staff and volunteers what
goes where. Some specific volunteers assigned to the Zero
Waste staff will help educate the public during events.

Coca-Cola contributed an additional $300,000 to SLOC in
order to make sure all these things could be done right.
Coca Cola also expects to purchase more than 100,000
pounds of recycled plastic from beverage containers to
make the closed loop recycling system work.

Coca-Cola is also introducing a new PET recycling bin in
the shape of a bottle that will be used in Coca Cola
Olympic venue concessions. Coca Cola will also backhaul
the shrinkwrap from product deliveries to their warehouse
where an existing recycling program is in place (to avoid
contaminating the compost stream).  Also, Coca Cola has
established beverage container recycling programs at their
hospitality hotels.

A variety of recycled content products will be used at the
Olympics. Coca Cola staff vests will be made of recycled
PET. T-Shirts and Golf shorts will be made of PET manufactured
by a minority-owned business.

Along the Torch Relay routes preceding the Olympics, Coca Cola sponsored 
Green Teams (recruited of local recyclers) to collect bottles and cans at 
Relay events for recycling. Materials were given to local
recycling programs around the country as part of these

GRRN would like to salute the leadership of the Olympics
in adopting the goal of Zero Waste, and applaud the
improvements in their discard system that have been made
since last summer. A truly Zero Waste Olympics will set a
new standard for special events all over the world. GRRN
also commends Coca Cola for its assistance to SLOC to
ensure that these improvements were made.

If you are interested in working with REAL LIVE Olympic
Recyclables, contact John Madole at 612-281-5179. Green
Valley is looking for volunteers before (starting now),
during, and after the Games (to the end of March, after the
Paralympics) to work in the Material Recovery Facility. It's
a once in a life time opportunity!

Information on other SLOC environmental goals (e.g., zero
emissions, urban forestry advocacy and zero tolerance for
compliance errors) are posted at
Daily recovery rates will also be posted at and at information kiosks at all
venues. For more information: contact Diane Gleason,
SLOC at 801-212-2160 or Laynee Jones at 801-212-2289.

In addition, a story on this topic ran in Waste News of
January 21, 2002 at

Gary Liss
Gary Liss & Associates
4395 Gold Trail Way
Loomis, CA  95650-8929
Phone: 916-652-7850
Fax: 	  916-652-0485

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