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May 27, 2015

A Race to Zero Waste at IRONMAN

“With months of training behind them, and a grueling obstacle course in front of them, the hundreds of athletes who came to The Woodlands, Texas, this month to participate in the IRONMAN Triathlon were ready to meet the challenge of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run.

As the official environmental solutions provider for IRONMAN Texas and Arizona, and the official sustainability partner of the IRONMAN World Championship, Waste Management was ready to handle the waste generated by thousands of participants, spectators and volunteers during the event. Since partnering with IRONMAN in 2013, WM has worked closely with the World Triathlon Corporation and event organizers to develop creative solutions that reduce waste and increase recycling.

Tom Carpenter, director of Waste Management Sustainability Services and an IRONMAN athlete—who completed his 16th IRONMAN triathlon at IRONMAN Texas—is guiding the efforts to make the IRONMAN race more environmentally friendly. At IRONMAN events in Florida, Texas and Arizona in 2013, WM helped add a sustainability coordinator to the IRONMAN team and kept between 45 to 65 percent of trash out of the landfill. With lessons learned from the previous year, in 2014, WM helped IRONMAN Texas divert 97 percent of race waste from the landfill through recycling efforts.

This year, Waste Management worked with the IRONMAN team to keep even more materials out of the landfill by increasing the number of recycling bins on the course, providing educational materials about our Recycle Often. Recycle Right.SM campaign and encouraging everyone to do their part to reduce and recycle their items. Some simple tips offered were for athletes to carry a small zip-lock bag in one of their pockets to discard items, buy all nutrition and hydration in larger quantities and refill their small and reusable bottles. Find more tips in 5 Ways to Race for a Greener Planet.

Working with the IRONMAN team, WM made sustainability both a goal and reality at specific events throughout the country. With the increasing diversion rate, WM is on its way to reaching its ultimate goal: to make IRONMAN a zero waste event.