The Cleveland Indians, in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, have taken on the challenge of managing their high volume waste and are succeeding in a significant way. Since its inaugural year in 1994, Progressive Field (then Jacobs Field) has provided recycling receptacles for plastic, cardboard and aluminum. When the facility’s waste hauling contract expired in late 2007, the operations team stepped up their waste management efforts to establish the ballpark as an industry leader.

In 2008, Brad Mohr, assistant director of ballpark operations, forged new partnerships with local waste management companies and arranged for the separation of waste from recyclables on-site. To do this the team purchased two balers that create 1200-pound cubes of cardboard and 500-pound ready-for-sale cubes of plastic or aluminum. With the money they saved from these machines they were able to pay off the $30,000 cost within six months.

In three years the team was able to cut their annual waste in half, which subsequently reduced the number of trash compactor pickups, saving the team $50,000 in those three years. Mohr is confident the ballpark will continue to save at least $50,000 or more each year with its improved waste management program. Not only has this program reduced the ballpark’s environmental impact, it has also created local jobs; extra custodial staff are hired for each game to help pick up recyclables around the ballpark.

The Tellus Institute launched a report last week entitled “More Jobs, Less Pollution” at an event hosted by the Indians at Progressive Field. This event took place alongside a number of events across the country on National Recycling Day, which was November 16. The event was also a showcase of the great initiatives the team has implemented to reduce and reuse waste.

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