“Green For A Reason” is the motto of the Village of Rosemont’s waste reduction program, launched at the Allstate Arena in 2009. Its municipally owned and managed convention, entertainment and sports facilities host a total of 18 Million visitors annually, giving this unique community the opportunity to impact a population which includes – but extends FAR beyond - its residents.
In 2012, the Village of Rosemont (“Rosemont”) repurposed a municipal property originally developed to house a casino. While converting this complex to an entertainment district, significant resources were allocated to insure that the facility’s infrastructure would support a comprehensive waste diversion strategy for Park activities and those of its tenants. In 2013, this public-private partnership succeeding in launching a model of municipal sustainability: MB Financial Park and its 8 tenants diverted over 440 tons from landfills, including 210 tons of mixed recyclables, 126 tons of food scrap, 52 tons of cardboard and 52 tons of spent grain - recycled as cattle feed.
The following narrative and metrics should provide a qualitative and quantitative understanding of the Village of Rosemont’s impactful Resource Recovery effort at the MB Financial Park (“MB Park”). Data provided by 3rd party contractors that haul waste generated at the Park; numbers compiled by Bright Beat Sustainability Consulting.
WHAT WE DID:
Beginning in March, 2012, Rosemont engaged the services of Bright Beat to provide guidance and oversight of MB Park’s sustainability planning and redesign.
1. STRUCTURAL IMPROVEMENT: The existing site was not built to support a multi-stream resource recovery program, so the retrofit design and re-construction included creation of two Resource Recovery (“RR”) areas at the north (RR1) and south (RR2) ends of the facility.
a. RR1 & RR2 feature bilingual instructional signage and ample space for managing waste diversion activities such as bale making and storage, compaction of recyclables, collection of spent cooking oil and storage of organics collection bins. If not for this well-allocated space, execution of RR practices would be challenged.
b. Adjustments were made to doors and doorframes, and a key-code gate and push plate door openers were installed to ease movement of tenant waste material using the recycled-content gondolas purchased by the Village. Widening entry-points along the route to RR areas allowed the facility to use larger (1.6 cubic yard) gondolas, thus reducing the number of necessary trips to those areas, as well as the number of tips into those compactors -- Improving efficiency and conserving energy!
c. Installation of scissor lifts and a custom 3-stream chute system was designed to move tenant waste material to ground level, separated by type (organic, recyclable and landfill) The weight and handling of food scraps was a key factor in selecting the most effective equipment, particularly for a high-volume second floor restaurant tenant.
2. EQUIPMENT: The most suitable equipment was chosen to align with the desired RR program. These equipment and practices improve operational efficiency and safety, while minimizing waste volume and incentivizing greater tenant diversion (i.e. proper separation of cardboard saves them money!)
a. In addition to standard 30 yard compactors, toter tippers were installed/rented to support safe handling of recycling and trash streams.
b. A unified strategy for cardboard collection/baling/storage/transport is managed by Rosemont and supported by its municipal funds and labor.
c. Rosemont procured large, recycled-content gondolas for material collection and movement, along with temporary (special event) bins and permanent bins for public recycling and trash.
3. EDUCATION & OUTREACH: This program’s objective is to REDUCE WASTE & CHANGE BEHAVIOR!
a. Consistent messaging on all public-facing receptacles was designed to simplify public education and engagement, and improve results with the 1.2 million diners and entertainment-seekers annually. Communication is focused on teaching them “what goes where”, so they can participate in diverting recyclables and compostables from trash at the Park. We aim to foster change in the mindset and behavior of these individuals, so these environmentally-minded practices are carried with them to their homes, schools and offices.
b. Training guidelines were presented and provided to tenant management and staff, and the Park’s own facility staff – well over 1,000 workers - to promote consistent, efficient management of all streams and to support overall waste reduction.
c. Using public relations and social media mentions to promote the “Green for a Reason” program attracted media coverage, which further extended the impact of these best practices – especially when positioned as “a better way to do business”.
4. TRANSPORTATION: In 2013, the Village of Rosemont – in partnership with CMAP - launched an update to its Comprehensive Village Plan, which is over 37 years old. Rosemont is proactive in its efforts to improve the safety and walkability of its community, as it develops a strategy for smart growth. Though it is hard to quantify the impact of this deep, strategic planning, an example of its “Smart Growth Activities is Rosemont’s work with the PACE bus system to improve access to public transportation during key times to key locations, including the "Lunchtime Circulator" bus route, taking cars off the road and increasing access to a wider variety of options for area business-people, visitors and residents.
WHO WAS INVOLVED: (partners in bold)
When the US-EPA awarded the WasteWise Gold Achievement Award for Public Venue Recycling to the Village of Rosemont / Allstate Arena in 2011, the positive public awareness was significant. The “Green For A Reason” program, developed and executed by Bright Beat Consulting, also provided cost savings and operational efficiencies. Receiving Public Sector Energy Efficiency grants from IL DCEO further drove the point home that GOING GREEN IS GOOD. So Bradley A. Stephens, Mayor of Rosemont, decided to use the learnings from Allstate Arena to implement a resource recovery (RR) plan, and strive for further sustainability success, at its next municipal development.
1. 2013 MB Park tenants include: Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, Hofbrauhaus, King’s Bowl, Adobe Gila’s, Zanie’s, Five Roses Pub, Park Tavern, and My Big Fat Greek Restaurant.
2. Rosemont’s Lead Engineer, from Christopher B. Burke Engineering, was elemental to the structurally-sound build out of RR areas, installation of equipment and analysis of height and weight tolerances as related to the trucks that would pick up RR materials.
3. Nu-Recycling Technology in Naperville provided a customized 3-stream chute system, working with tenant’s construction contractor & electrician on coordinated installation, so that material from a busy 2nd floor restaurant could be successfully separated.
4. Waste Management provided detailed data on equipment and trucks, and conducted tests to be sure service/equipment would work for all parties before any equipment was installed.
HOW WE DID IT:
As mentioned above, the municipal leaders in Rosemont believed in the effectiveness of environmentally efficient facility management, leading MB Park Management to display strong commitment to the implementation and execution of the program.
1. The opportunity to save money by diverting recyclables from trash, including the baling of cardboard, was a clear economic benefit to this environmental initiative. Cost savings associated with the close eye kept on hauler invoices was another financial benefit.
2. With Bright Beat’s experience in Allstate Arena’s US-EPA Food Recovery Challenge, Rosemont was poised to draft tenant guidelines that demonstrated its leadership in food scrap diversion, while making organics collection an achievable option for tenant partners and other restaurants in the area – a huge opportunity!
3. The costs and effort to implement this program were large. Infrastructure improvements cost the most (2 scissor lifts, 2 resource recovery rooms with overhead doors and odor abatement systems), plus equipment (7 recycled-content gondolas, 40 temp & perm recycling bins), cleaning supplies, consulting fees and Park labor. It cost well over $100,000, and it’s still on-going effort of re-education. With over 1,000 workers at the Park, plus high turnover in the restaurant industry, it was necessary with certain tenants to present training materials to new sets of managers 2-3 times in 2013.
4. MB Park rolled open, month by month, in 2012, with a multi-step process needed to design and implement each tenants’ resource recovery plan. Steps included: Creation of tenant sustainability guidelines, estimating quantity and contents of material generated each day/week, mapping travel routes for movement of material from dining room to tenant handling space to RR areas, estimating needs at max capacity, design/purchase/placement of informative resource recovery signs for resource recovery areas and tenant kitchens, coordination of reliable cup recycling with Park waste hauling contractor, and tenant management and staff training sessions.
5. Bright Beat Consulting researched the infrastructure and tenant-facility agreements at malls and other multi-tenant facilities, and visited similar facilities like Navy Pier to share best practices and identify new potential solutions.
6. On the equipment and infrastructure side, there were many barriers to overcome with implementation, for example:
a. The parking structure was not designed to bear the weight of compactors, or packer trucks shaking container contents into them (there is a valet parking floor below ground level), so 2 yard containers + toter tippers were the revised RR2 solution.
b. The RR1 floor is on a grade, which caused excess liquids to leak from the compactor. Engineering meetings with MB Park and Waste Management were held, but it was the tenant staff communicating with Bright Beat that lead to the solution: We communicated with tenant management, and tenant staff was retrained to empty liquids from used cups into “dump buckets” that could be disposed elsewhere, thus reducing liquid waste in the compactor. Collaborative communication!
c. Strong diversion practices at Hofbrauhaus caused the Executive Chef to reduce trash service, increase recycling service, and implement a larger container for organic waste. This 5 yard organics container has an internal coating designed to prevent deterioration by decomposing food chemicals – THE FIRST OF ITS KIND, being tested by Waste Management.
7. Communication pieces (program logo, signage, labeled bins, emails/memos) were created and utilized via best practices developed at other Village properties. Even identifying the best printing partner was a helpful step in launching the succession of tenant programs.
8. Success by repetition…. Bright Beat Consulting spent 40 hours per month researching problems and solutions, training and spot-checking tenant compliance, improving efficiency, promoting the eco-benefits and general cheerleading. This consistent outreach was invaluable in keeping tabs on real goings-on at the Park, as well as letting tenants know “we’re here to help, and we’re keeping an eye on things”.
9. The Village of Rosemont must prioritize safety and attracting people to MB Park, in order to fulfill the expectations of its citizens and tenant partners. But as you know, more people, more business, more waste! So the resource recovery plan is somewhat evaluated on how it impacts (or rather, doesn’t hamper) operations, and how it improves public sentiment and awareness of recycling. The program was overall successful in this evaluation. And the metrics will show you – THE RESULTS EXCEEDED OUR GOAL OF 50% DIVERSION!
WHAT WERE/ARE THE BENEFITS?
(Our evaluation of success is written above)
1. MB Park’s “Green For A Reason” environmental sustainability strategy aligns with the eco-minded leadership of the Village of Rosemont, provides marketing and PR value to MB Park and its tenants, while tackling the waste challenges to be expected from a large food-based entertainment facility. Additionally, the eco-culture embedded in this entertainment district should positively impact the lifestyle of its million+ patrons.
2. Resource recovery and landfill conservation are benefits to this program. In 2013, over 440 tons were diverted from landfill, including 52 tons recycled as cattle feed. Updated resource recovery calculations from Waste Management can be provided in a separate report.
3. Besides the 1,000+ employees at MB Park growing accustomed to tenants’ resource recovery practices , a staff of 10-15 Park Maintenance workers have stable employment which includes, in-part, responsibility for the successful RR activities.
4. Bright Beat not only benefits from this project work, but also expands MB Financial Park at Rosemont’s impact, by interacting with many municipalities and large-scale facility operators to share best practices and learnings. It is by overcoming barriers and creating new solutions for today’s resource recovery goals, and increasing expectations of the external stakeholders who impact our successes that we are setting a new standard in public-private partnerships.