Tests at six fall marathons will contribute to the development of a recycling protocol for low density polyethylene at road races across the U.S.
September 10, 2008, Petaluma, CA: AFM President and COO, Stephanie Deigan, announced today a recycling pilot project she described as “well underway.” The intent of the project is to develop and provide extensive guidelines to running events of all sizes for the recycling of their plastic waste, including AFM’s highly visible Heatsheets®-on-a-Roll™ finish line and aid-station heat-reflective plastic blankets.
Six marathons of various sizes, representing a wide range of U.S. recycling markets, were selected from AFM’s Heatsheets® customer base to participate in this fall’s pilot project, including: the Portland Marathon, October 5th in Portland, OR; the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, October 5th in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN; the ING Hartford Marathon, October 11th in Hartford, CT; the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon, October 12th from Schenectady to Albany, NY; the IMT Des Moines Marathon, October 19th in Des Moines, IA; and the Nike Women’s marathon, October 19th in San Francisco, CA.
AFM founder and CEO David Deigan, who has taken direct management responsibility for the project, reflects back upon the “aha” moment that convinced him that something had to be done: “Our product is one of the most prominent products at the finish line of long distance running events, especially marathons. A couple of years ago, at the Chicago Marathon, I noticed there were three or four dumpsters full of Heatsheets® destined for the landfill, and it was really a wake-up call. I was genuinely shocked by what I saw, so I started trying to figure out what we, as a company, could do to change our impact on the sport.”
Deigan added: “The challenge was the non-recyclable metallized Mylar® material the Heatsheets® were made from.” The search for, and testing of, alternate materials started shortly thereafter, and ultimately led Deigan to the proprietary formulation of low-density polyethylene that today’s recyclable Heatsheets® are made from.
If the dumpsters in Chicago were the “aha” moment, the tipping point came last fall in the form of a call to Deigan from Virginia Brophy Achman, Executive Director of Twin Cities Marathon, Inc. Achman had been approached by Jon Stein, a local marathon runner who was convinced that discarded Heatsheets® were recyclable. What’s more, he volunteered to personally guide the project for her.
Stein had retired from a family-owned company that began reusing and recycling items 100 years ago, filling the gaps in wooden barrels with reeds so they could be reused to store and transport linseed oil. He subsequently returned from retirement to guide the family tradition in a new direction: finding markets for the category 3 through 6 recyclable plastics that traditional waste management companies struggle to segregate and reprocess. Through Stein’s efforts, Consolidated Container Company is forging strategic relationships with waste management companies as an ally, rather than as a competitor, to develop options for recycling what is now one of the most ubiquitous forms of solid waste—plastics like polyvinyl chloride, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene.
Energized by the dialogue with Brophy Achman and Stein, and what he learned attending several sustainability conferences, including Road Race Management’s “How Green is My Event Workshop,” Deigan convinced AFM’s board that an aggressive approach to recycling was essential, and that work needed to begin immediately. Reaching out to Eco-Logistics, a consultancy focused on helping participant sporting events become more environmentally responsible, the senior Deigan asked for help in developing a systematic approach for recycling Heatsheets®. Thus, the pilot project was born.
While Stein will lead the pilot effort at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, the other five participating pilot events will receive direct guidance from Eco-Logistics waste management expert Lee Barrett, including Barrett’s personal involvement with local solid waste management companies and film plastics processors to ensure the objectives of the program are achieved. Barrett will also provide the link between events to allow best practices to be shared. PR support will be provided to each pilot event by Lee’s partner, Keith Peters.
AFM and Eco-Logistics will take the findings from the pilot projects and develop detailed recycling protocols to address the opportunities and challenges running events of all sizes will face as they develop programs for recycling LDPE. Recycling protocols should be available by the end of the year on www.Heatsheets®.com. There will be no charge for the PDF format document, and events will not need to be a customer of AFM to download the information.
AFM looks forward to expanding its Heatsheets® recycling program to include the nation’s mega-marathons next year.
For more information about the Heatsheets® recycling pilot project, contact Keith Peters at (307) 690.6803, or send mail to Keith@Eco-Logistics.biz.