Every year, thousands of athletes around the world participate in an IRONMAN® triathlon: one of the ultimate challenges of human endurance, including a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile run.
For the athletes, the years of sweat and preparation necessary to reach this point is a tremendous feat. The same is true for the on-site organizers looking to achieve incredible sustainability goals.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Waste Management has been helping IRONMAN since 2013 work toward their goals of a smaller race footprints and a more sustainable future. The collective efforts reached a high note with the 2016 IRONMAN Boulder event in Boulder, Colo., where Waste Management helped the event earn the highest level of certification, Evergreen, from the Council for Responsible Sport, an organization that recognizes successful implementation of socially and environmentally responsible practices.
IRONMAN Boulder completed credits for this distinction across five categories: planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy. Waste Management provided valuable insight from the initial planning process through the race’s execution and reporting, enabling IRONMAN to accomplish the Council’s certification. IRONMAN Boulder is now in elite company, being one of only nine events (and the only triathlon) to receive Evergreen status.
To celebrate the achievement, IRONMAN produced a video, featuring Michele Grossman, Managing Principal with Waste Management’s Sustainability Services team:
Some of the specific areas of concentration at IRONMAN Boulder included:
Water. Waste Management and IRONMAN Boulder strove to improve water conservation on the course, and executed a new off-site effort. On-course, water usage from facilities was carefully measured, and both Waste Management and IRONMAN helped athletes and fans better understand and contribute to water conservation. In addition, Waste Management engaged the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, allowing IRONMAN to purchase Water Restoration Certificates for the first time. The result was restoring 50,000 gallons to the Colorado River Basin, nearly triple the footprint of the race.
Energy and greenhouse gas emissions. For the first time at IRONMAN Boulder, Waste Management helped the race track energy and calculate greenhouse gas emissions from event operations, transportation, rental equipment and on-course generators. Waste Management engaged the Colorado Carbon Fund, and IRONMAN offered them free booth space to educate attendees about greenhouse gas footprinting and offsets.
Waste Management worked with IRONMAN by reporting on current environmental initiatives and identifying opportunities for improvement and innovation. With a comprehensive sustainability baseline and program, the team is poised to elevate their sustainability initiatives and expand reporting to foster continuous improvement.
The key to reaching the green finish line lies in understanding that the consumption of natural resources can be minimized across event activities and that all waste generated during an event can find a second life. To learn more about the partnership between Waste Management and IRONMAN, check out the first Sustainability Report for the IRONMAN Boulder triathlon.