US Open Rallies Green Efforts: Increasing Recycling, Public Transportation & Local Food Use

TreeHugger has covered the impressive green efforts of the USTA at the US Open, held at the start of September at the US Tennis Center in Flushing, New York, for the past several years. This year we didn't take the behind the scenes facilities tour, but have received an update on what's happening this year on the tournament's efforts on recycling, serving local food, get fans to use public transportation, and more—plus how well last year's efforts paid off.

In 2011, the Open composted and recycled 207 tons of waste, up from 148 tons in the previous year and roughly two and half times more than four years ago.

Of that amount, some 350,000 plastic bottles were recycled—an impressive amount of recycling but an even more telling thing is that there were that many disposable bottles used over the length of the tournament by players, fans and employees. Even better than recycling those bottles would be coming up with alternatives to individual plastic bottles in the first place.

Equally impressive to the amount that composting and recycling has been embraced is the increase in public transportation usage by fans. In 2011, 60% of tournament visitors arrived via subway or train (the stadium is served both by NYC subway and commuter rail). That's double the percentage that arrived by rail a decade ago, and a slight bump over recent years.

Most interesting to me is the commitment made by the tournament and its food vendors to increase local food sourcing—considering that the event takes places right as New York experiences a bounty of crops, doubly good. In 2011, 34% of all food was local and organic, an increase from 20% in 2009 when this part of the tournament's green efforts began. This is expected to increase to 40% in 2012.

Other green programs begun this year:

All player travel will be carbon offset, via Viridian Energy and Sterling Planet, from the Greater Bedford Landfill Gas Utilization Project.

12,000 gallons of food grease from venue kitchens is being collected and turned into biofuel, with 20,000 pounds of food donated to local communities and 60 tons of food waste composted.

Tags: Local Food | Recycling | Renewable Energy | Sports

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