Green Team brought recycling, composting to World Equestrian Games

ecostationRecycling and composting efforts of the Green Team, which included members of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment, were a success in keeping recyclable and compostable items used at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games out of local landfills.

"It was a well coordinated effort," said Carol Hanley, with the college's Environmental and Natural Resources Initiative, associate director of the Tracy Farmer Institute and Green Team member. "Volunteers made sure the grounds were well kept. The bins were well placed. It was very convenient for people to recycle."

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, which was one of two agencies that handled the waste, took in more than 178,000 pounds of recovered materials, which included compostable and recyclable items, during the two-week event, said Esther Moberly, recycling program specialist for the city's Division of Waste Management and chair of the Green Team's recycling subcommittee. 

Prior to the games, officials at the Kentucky Horse Park began ramping up the park's recycling program, which was very small two years ago.

"The games gave us a good blueprint for how to manage waste and recyclables on a large scale for large events," said Royce Blevins, the park's assistant director of construction, maintenance and planning and Green Team member.

Through a fundraiser at the governor's mansion which included a donation from media mogul Ted Turner, the Green Team raised $35,000 which they used to purchase 32 recycling bins for the games. These bins will be a permanent fixture on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park. Additionally, the park has purchased about 30 indoor recycling bins for future events.

During the games, the city provided more than 600 receptacles for recycling, composting and trash. Green Team volunteers manned clusters of receptacles, called eco-stations, to ensure the games' attendees properly disposed of their trash.

Recycled items included newspaper, office paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles. Compostable items included food and vegetable-based food to-go packaging.

"It's really unfortunate that the majority of food waste goes to landfills because food is so nutrient rich," said Jocelyn Tice, founder of Green Duck, a supplier of biodegradable goods. "Food waste can be processed to make organic compost soil that can be used to grow more food." 

Green Duck supplied the games with the compostable to-go food packaging and implemented and managed the composting and recycling effort during the games.

Recycled items were taken to Lexington's recycling center where they were processed with the city's other recyclables.

Composting is a new venture for the city, and city officials are using the compost collected from the games as an opportunity to see how the process works and determine if it's a viable option for Lexington. 

Blevins said the horse park will continue to compost food waste on a small scale along with leaves and yard waste collected from park grounds.

In addition to the UK College of Agriculture, Tracy Farmer Institute, Kentucky Horse Park and the city government, the Green Team was comprised of representatives from the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy, Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence, Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center, Ameresco, Bluegrass Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment and the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet.

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