Edinburgh, Scotland: The 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open (WMPO) has been awarded GEO Certified Tournament status, becoming the first event to reach this achievement for three years in a row. The certification is an internationally recognised award for sustainability in golf, administered by Scotland-based GEO Foundation.
The WMPO’s success builds upon years of hard work and concerted team effort to make the tournament, one of the largest annually occurring sport events in the world, the ‘greenest show on grass’.
The tournament’s sustainability efforts have full buy-in from all the organisers, including the hosts, the Thunderbirds, and the title-sponsor, Waste Management. Through this strong leadership, the WMPO has proven itself to be a credible and powerful leader in sustainability and sports, with extensive community and stakeholder outreach, as well as charitable giving and strong tournament legacy as pillars of the sustainability programme.
Thanks to the close involvement of Waste Management in tournament operations, the WMPO has also demonstrated extraordinary leadership in dealing with the events’ needs for materials and waste, with education and fan engagement as important components of the tournament’s ‘Zero Waste Challenge’.
Shelley Villalobos, Lead Verifier for the 2019 WMPO, and Managing Director at the Council for Responsible Sport said: “Waste Management have provided the golf and events industry one of the best examples of an operationally integrated title sponsorship that helps all parties achieve their respective goals.
“Zero waste is an extraordinary feat for an event of this size (one of the largest annual events in the world). The WMPO continues to demonstrate industry-leading capabilities in balancing the triple-bottom-lines of people, economics and the environment with regards to materials management. With a particularly strong supplier and stakeholder engagement programme, the event has become a key example of the successes to be gained through genuine and on-going collaboration.”
Jonathan Smith, Executive Director, GEO, said: “Three consecutive years of certification goes to show how consistently the WMPO has planned, implemented and continually improved its sustainability initiatives and policies over the years. Not only has the tournament demonstrated credible leadership in golf, but the WMPO serves as a great example of how all large-scale events can act responsibly and sustainably – reducing strain on resources and climate impacts, and providing tangible benefits for the community.
“The WMPO’s tournament organisers and partners have shown highly commendable teamwork and commitment to achieve their sustainability goals and deliver meaningful impacts. With a long-term vision for continual improvement in place, the WMPO will continue to develop its position as a sustainability leader in golf, and more broadly, in the years to come. It’s great to see such a large and influential event in golf leading by example.”
Chance Cozby, Big Chief of the Thunderbirds, hosts of the WMPO, said: “Waste management and the Thunderbirds are extremely proud of this achievement. Becoming the first tournament to maintain GEO Certified status for three years validates our comprehensive sustainability programme and commitment to continually improving.”
Some of the sustainability highlights from the 2019 WMPO include:
- Zero Waste Challenge: All materials used across tournament operations were reusable, recyclable, or compostable, allowing 99.4% of materials to be diverted from landfill.
- 100% of tournament carbon emissions offset in partnership with Envirofit International, and 100% of grid electricity supplied from renewable sources.
- Strong local partnerships: The Thunderbirds donated US$12.2 million of tournament proceedings to 71 local charities in 2018, with similar donations following the 2019 edition.
- Community and fan engagement activities, such as educational ‘Zero Waste Stations’, charitable giving on ‘Green Out Day’, and First Tee Dream days for local youths.
To achieve GEO certification, the organisers completed a robust, custom-built programme for golf tournaments that includes document and evidence submission, a third-party verification carried out by the Council for Responsible Sport, a thorough review by GEO, and agreement to Continual Improvement Points for future tournaments.
The WMPO achieved 50 of 50 credits attempted (from a maximum of 55), across six categories – planning and communications, site protection, procurement, resource management, access and equity and community legacy.