Pebble Beach Community Services District: Innovative Partnerships Reduce Waste at Incredible Levels

By Suha Kilic, Deputy General Manager/CFO, Pebble Beach CSD

2014 AT&T National Pro-Am Golf Tournament Twice-Honored

Since 1987, the Pebble Beach Community Services District (PBCSD) has been providing solid waste and recycling services in Pebble Beach, the home of legendary resorts and golf courses with a commitment to implement effective programs and practices to protect the environment. Since the 2008 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am PGA Tour event, PBCSD has been annually participating in a collaborative effort with The Offset Project (TOP), a local non-profit agency which offers consulting services to achieve improved waste diversion rates; Monterey Peninsula Foundation, the event promoter; and Pebble Beach Company (PBC), owner-operator of world-famous resorts, including The Lodge at Pebble Beach and The Inn at Spanish Bay, and four renowned golf courses: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay and Del Monte Golf Course.

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This high profile golf event, which attracts spectators and players from across the country and around the world, first received a gold level environmental certification from “Council for Responsible Sport,” followed by the “Outstanding Practices in Event Resource Recovery” award given by the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA) in 2014. The CRRA annual awards recognize programs and people who are “going above and beyond” in their efforts to prevent waste, compost, recycle and reuse materials. The tournament was selected from a large number of competing events and venues throughout California.

The 2014 tournament ran for seven days hosting some 130,000 players, spectators, staff and volunteers, and operating on three world class courses simultaneously. It is a particularly high profile event as it also invites celebrity players such as Bill Murray, George Lopez, Ray Romano, Kevin Costner, Tom Brady and others. TOP was tasked with diverting more than 90 percent of waste, which required working with the Monterey Peninsula Foundation on purchasing decisions; with the waste hauler, Waste Management, Inc. (WMI) on strategic dumpster placement and transporting dumpsters to different locations for sorting during the event. TOP also had to create a new stewarding strategy, which would streamline the hauling and sorting of compostables, simplify trash and recycling bag separation, and designate an area for construction/demolition materials consolidation.

“TOP is inspired by a vision to create a world without waste and PBC and PBCSD embraced that vision. They offered financial and staff support to help us rewrite the playbook for waste diversion at Pebble Beach Resorts.” said Kristin Cushman, executive director and founder of TOP. “Once the issues were identified and stakeholders were engaged, diversion strategies were developed to sort and process materials; training hundreds of event staff and volunteers along the way.”

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A collaborative effort was made to develop regional and state markets for leftover event materials that have traditionally gone into trash dumpsters. Overall, about 100 tons of material was reused, recycled, upcycled or composted out of a total of 108 tons of “waste” material. PBC donated 7,184 pounds of unused food to the Food Bank of Monterey County. Other participants included Waste to Waves, which upcycled 130 yards of Styrofoam into local surfboards; Terracycle, which accepted sixteen 32-gallon bags of wrappers and chip bags for upcycling into shopping bags; and the Last Chance Mercantile at the Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD) landfill in Marina, Hope Services of Seaside and ASIL.com of Los Angeles, which accepted 62.6 tons of Astroturf, rope, wood/laminate flooring, e-waste and fence meshing for reuse or recycling. Ninety more yards of construction and demolition material also went to the MRWMD Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) for reuse or recycling, while 14,500 pounds of food waste went to the MRWMD’s anaerobic digesters for electricity and compost production. A Pacific Grove furniture refurbisher accepted 12 pieces of damaged furniture from the event.

Environmentally responsible purchasing practices played a significant role in the success of the efforts. Compostable coffee cups and utensils were used throughout the tournament; and bulk condiments were available instead of condiment packets, which are a major source of food waste contamination. A public education component was incorporated by placing “zero-waste stations” in all food concession eating areas. All stations were manned by a volunteer who instructed event-goers on how to separate their own compostables, recyclable and trash items. These bags were sorted for a second time in order to remove any remaining contamination from the compostable materials.

At the end of the day, 85 dumpsters were pulled from the event and only five of those were considered trash. AT&T Pro-Am accomplished 93 percent of waste diversion, making it the first PGA event in California and the second ever PGA event to achieve this goal – a significant environmental achievement.

featurePebbleBeachTOPTons of Fun – and Only Four Pounds of Trash!

PBCSD’s commitment to environmental stewardship is exhibited also at its popular annual Open House and Barbeque, which is attended by approximately 1,000 Pebble Beach residents and guests on a Saturday every June. The event provides an opportunity to meet district directors, firefighters and other staff, tour the facilities, visit display booths with many exhibitors, purchase or recharge fire extinguishers, participate in children’s activities (including a bounce house, fire training trailer, educational puppet shows and contests for prizes); and even practice putting out a fire with help from firefighters. The event also provides an opportunity to provide recycling information to attendees and sets an example by aiming to achieve “zero-waste.” Only compostable plates, utensils, cups, napkins and other food products are used at the event. TOP and MRWMD staff and volunteers participate by working at source-separating collection stations and providing information. As a result of joint efforts, the District Open House repeatedly becomes one of the most successful zero-waste events, with more than 99 percent waste diversion. This year, the event collected 320 pounds of food waste and compostables, 200 pounds of recycling, and one small bag of trash weighing only four pounds. All containers were recycled, and organic waste was composted and sold to California farms and vineyards.

Annual Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and Electronics Waste (E-Waste) Collection Program

Beginning in 2008, PBCSD has staged an annual HHW and E-waste Collection event by converting its parking lots into drive-through drop-off stations. The event called “Big Green” is held every year in September, on a Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., giving Pebble Beach residents an opportunity to discard their household hazardous waste, paints, stains, cleaning products, other toxic materials; and unwanted pharmaceuticals and old electronics in a convenient way and free of charge. The event is another great example of success by collaboration among various agencies. PBCSD includes a “save the date” blurb in the spring/summer issue of its newsletter; then advertises the event about four weeks prior by mailing a notice to residents; and finally a garbage truck driver attaches another reminder cart to emptied containers the week before, on the collection day. PBCSD has been contracting with PSC Environmental, a professional company with necessary permits and expertise to collect HHW. Waste Management, Inc. (WMI), the current solid waste franchise holder, has been providing containers, equipment and staff to collect E-waste. MRWMD staff also participates by selecting and taking reusable materials to offer to public free of charge at their Last Chance Mercantile.

The event receives high remarks from participants for its merits, organization and convenience. Resident’s do not have to leave their vehicles as PBCSD firefighters unload the vehicles as they drive through the collection points; while maintenance department staff directs the traffic flow and administrative staff greets the residents and helps with logistics. This year 373 cars were served (considered a very high participation rate in a community of 2,700 homes) at the event. Almost six tons of E-Waste, 5.1 tons of HHW; 1,164 pounds of reusable items that will be offered to public at no cost at MRWMD and 290 lbs. of pharmaceuticals/medical waste have been collected. It is a happy event for all participants, since it protects people, animals, the ocean and our planet while purging the houses, offices and garages of toxic materials; which may also be fire hazards.

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Collection of Pharmaceuticals and Medical Waste, An On-Going Program

PBCSD newsletters have been informing residents about the harmful effects on the environment, aquatic life and drinking water supplies when medicines are disposed down the toilet or drain. In an effort to provide a secure and environmentally responsible way to dispose of expired or unused medications, vitamins and supplements, needles and syringes, and all prescription, over-the-counter and veterinary drugs, PBCSD started an on-going medical take-back program in November 2014. Now all those items can be disposed regularly Monday thru Thursday at the two kiosks placed inside the fire station lobby—one for pharmaceutical waste, and another for sharps, needles, syringes, scalpels, lancets and blood glucose test strips.

New Hauler- GreenWaste Recovery

Recently, the PBCSD Board of Directors approved a 15-year Solid Waste, Recyclable and Organics Collection Services Franchise Agreement with Green Waste Recovery Inc. (GWR), following a region-wide competitive proposal process involving PBCSD and six neighboring cities. Under the new agreement, GWR will take over services on July 1, 2015 when the agreement with the current hauler, WMI expires. GWR was the lowest of the four cost proposals received, and has approved franchise agreements with the six other neighboring cities who participated in the competitive Request for Proposal: Carmel-by-the- Sea, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Pacific Grove, Sand City and Seaside. The selection process included evaluation of proposals by a Technical Advisory Committee composed of senior staff from participating agencies and MRWMD, the owner/operator of the landfill in Marina.

GWR will use public facilities to be constructed at MRWMD landfill, including a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicle fueling station, a maintenance yard, and a local customer service call center. GWR trucks will be fueled with environmentally friendly CNG, which has a dramatically lower carbon footprint than gasoline.

Meeting State Recycling Goals

PBCSD has reduced its landfill input by nearly 70 percent since 1989— far surpassing the 50 percent reduction required by state law—due to diligent recycling by Pebble Beach residents and the programs presented above. The GWR agreement includes new recycling programs designed to help PBCSD do its part in meeting the recently passed legislation, Assembly Bill 341, which established a statewide 75 percent recycling goal by 2020. PBCSD also plans to continue its participation in innovative partnerships and programs to help reduce the carbon footprint of our community as a whole.

Originally posted at CSDA.

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