The Ingeo Eco-Innovation Lounge at the Green Sports Alliance Summit

Third-party experts including suppliers StalkMarket, Fabri-Kal and International Paper, sports teams, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, and leading composter AgRecycle will discuss what it takes to get to zero waste sports facilities at the Ingeo Eco-Innovation Lounge.

Visit the lounge for one-on-one consultation with the experts, or schedule a meeting in advance.


Thursday, September 6
  • 7:30am - 8:30am,  Networking
  • 10:15am - 10:45am,  Carla Castagnero, AgRecycle | Sissy Burkhart, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 12:00pm - 1:00pm,  Portland Trail Blazers / The Rose Quarter | Stalk Market
  • 2:30pm - 3:00pm,  Chris Roeder, International Paper
Friday, September 7
  • 7:30am - 8:30am,  Networking
  • 10:15am - 10:45am,  Pat McCullough, Fabri-Kal
  • 12:15pm - 1:15pm,  Networking

Q&A with the Zero Waste & Sustainable Venue Experts from the Eco-Innovation Lounge

Recently, Innovation Lounge experts Carla Castagnero (AgRecycle), Buzz Chandler (StalkMarket), Chris Roeder (International Paper) and Pat McCullough (Fabri-Kal) took some time to answer questions about professional sports and the move to become more sustainable.

Carla Castagnero AgRecycleCarla Castagnero
President, AgRecycle, Inc.

Q: Would you describe your services for major venues?

A: AgRecycle supplies comprehensive composting services to our clients. It begins with a general waste audit to determine the organic portion of the waste stream that is currently being generated. (When we use the term organic regarding a waste stream, we mean it in the sense of organic versus inorganic, not certified organic.) Next we review the logistics of separating the compostables from the general waste stream and the traditional recycling stream. We then discuss the appropriate size of containers to be used and the frequency of the pick-ups to service the client. AgRecycle has its own collection trucks and containers to service our clients. Additionally, we work very closely with the catering and management staffs to increase their use of compostable products. AgRecycle maintains one of the largest data bases of compostable products in the country. Currently, just over 2000, individual pieces can be tracked through us.

Q: Are there any misconceptions that venue operators have about your services?

A: Yes, the biggest misconception everyone has is that they think only food scraps and the field clippings are compostable. They do not realize the broad variety of other items that may be diverted away from landfills and recycled through composting, such as Ingeo-based compostable food serviceware. Secondly, generators sometimes think initially that composting is an additional cost on top of what they are currently paying for waste and recycling services. They forget that with the diversion to composting that their general waste stream will decrease, lessening the cost for disposal. Thirdly, the terms “biodegradable” and “compostable” are often viewed as interchangeable, when they are not regarding what may be diverted to composting. Lastly, as is understandable, many generators are unaware of just how regulated composting operations are by state governments. As such, in 95% of the states, composters are not allowed to accept non-compostable items. As such, composters do not have the option of accepting general waste or mixed recyclables and separating out the compostable materials. Compostables must be source separated by the generator prior to acceptance by the composter.

Q: Do you have any partnerships with major professional sports venues?

A: With pride, AgRecycle has been the composter for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their home, PNC Park, since April of 2009. 

Q: What have been some of the positive results of this partnership?

A: Many organizations, whether in sports or other business sectors, are not aware that composting is an easy option to prevent valuable resources from going to a landfill where they cannot be renewed. When you have a very high profile client, such as the Pittsburgh Pirates, who promotes their composting efforts, awareness of composting is raised.

Sissy BurkhartSissy Burkhart
Pittsburgh Pirates

Q: There seems to be common perception that any moves toward zero waste will add cost.  Can you comment on what sort of waste diversion results you’ve achieved, and the economic impact to you?

A: Zero waste does add cost in labor for separating recyclables, compostable material and wet trash. The first year of capturing compostable material in 2009 gave me a diversion rate of 37% to include recyclable material as well. We have increased our two yard compostable containers from two the first year to eight this year increasing our diversion rate. Our diversion rate at the end of 2011 was sixty-one percent.

Q: What was an important first step for you on this journey?

A: Finding a vendor in the area that would recycle and actually haul and compost material.

Q: If you had a resource like the Ingeo Eco-Innovation Lounge when you first started, would that have been a help?

A: Yes

Buzz Chandler Stalk MarketBuzz Chandler
President, StalkMarket

Q: Would you briefly describe your compostable food service product line?

A: The StalkMarket family of 100% BPI certified compostable products utilize Ingeo plant-based resins for our Planet+ by StalkMarket hot and cold paper cup and lid products, that are used for both hot beverage and cold soda operations. The Jaya by StalkMarket clear Ingeo resin products for cocktail, beer, cutlery, smoothies, and take out containers, and our bagasse fiber StalkMarket line of serving plates, nacho trays, bowls etc. All 100% compostable and made from 100% plant materials.

Q: Are there any misconceptions that venue operators have about these products?

A: The biggest misconceptions we repeatedly see is the fear that they are more costly and hard to obtain, which is just not true. Over the past 5 years, we have seen more and more price parity with what could be called “normal” plastic or fiber products that have traditionally been used by venues. In addition, those that utilize petroleum based plastic resins have seen huge swings in pricing, whereas plant based compostable products have, for the most part, been very even keeled in their costs, void of any sudden and rapid swings in pricing costs. Finally, we are seeing more receptivity to look at total costs - the cost of the compostable item and disposal costs noting the latter is now incurring cost savings through the consolidation of what was two (food/packaging) waste streams into one combined food/compostable waste stream with landfill diversion one key outcome.

Q: Are you seeing real success stories from major venue operators? How are they measuring success?

A: Yes we are. Originally we were part, and still are a part of the Portland Trailblazer sustainable program which continues to be a success and flourishing to this day. The Trailblazers have seen not only reductions in the use of energy, water, solid wastes, but new and innovative customer enhancements such as bike racks and electric vehicle charging stations. Their fan base has been educated, and there have been actual scenes of fans “diving” into a waste receptacle to move a misplaced piece of trash from “landfill” to “compostable.” We are seeing similar successes in places like Detroit, Atlanta, and other areas around the U.S. The keys to knowing that you are succeeding is how your fan base responds in a positive manner, the statue it brings in the community and last but not least, the real dollar savings that are usually large, with a good comprehensive and staff educated program.

Chris Roeder International PaperChris Roeder
International Paper

Q: Would you briefly describe your compostable foodservice line?

A: Ecotainer® packaging is a revolutionary product line that provides a more environmentally sensitive alternative to traditional foodservice products. Made from fully renewable resources, they are compostable and provide outstanding performance in both hot and cold applications. ecotainer® holds the promise of a more sustainable future. And that's not just great for the planet, it's great for business.

Q: Are there any misconceptions that venue operators have about these products?

A: Use for hot beverages, soups, etc. – Within this space, not as many buyers have been exposed to Ingeo (PLA) coated paperboard options that are well suited for both hot and cold applications.

Branded National Beverage Programs – One thing that has made looking at ecotainer easier for some venues is that we currently produce ecotainer cups for a number of global beverage brands, and they are available through beverage distributors, or can be purchased directly from International Paper.

Recyclability – If a venue is already engaged in paper / paperboard recycling, our ecotainer® option will work equally well as standard paper cups and cartons in that same program.

Customization – Customization can be difficult for smaller venues, but typically, venues can support the minimum order quantities that we have established for custom printed cups.

Q: Are you seeing real success stories from major venue operators? How are they measuring success?

A: We get most of our feedback from the distribution network that services the venues using our products, however, where we are directly engaged with the customer, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Most groups that we work with have established goals around waste diversion (by weight) – which our products are specifically geared for. Ultimately, though, I think that venues are measuring overall impact (waste, energy, water, etc.) and fan / community engagement and appreciation.

We have seen far more success stories, than cases where these types of initiatives were put in place and subsequently discontinued either due to cost or a lack of fan / community interest.

Patrick McCulloughPatrick McCullough

Q: Would you briefly describe your compostable foodservice product line?

A: Fabri-Kal produces a line of compostable drink cups and lids along with a line of compostable portion cups and lids all made from 100% Ingeo PLA resin. These products are all made in the USA, and are Cedar Grove approved. We have the capability to print all of our cups and portion cups in 5 or more colors with soy based ink.

Q: Are there any misconceptions that venue operators have about these products?

A: Many consumers of these products are confused with the end of life of our Greenware packaging. These need to be composted in an industrial compost facility.

Q: Are you seeing real success stories from major venue operators? How are they measuring success?

A: We are seeing success in closed commercial facilities that are large enough to effectively manage their own waste stream. They only source products they are able to recycle or compost allowing them to contain contamination of their waste stream making their goal for a zero waste facility a reality. The key to success is aligning the products they use in their facilities with the capabilities of their hauler.

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