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What does Phoenix’s 'zero waste' Super Bowl mean?

Published: Thursday, February 23, 2023 - 2:46pm

Phoenix is marking a trash milestone after the city reached its goal of having a zero waste Super Bowl.

In the trash industry, "zero waste" typically means diverting at least 90% away from landfills. For the 2015 Super Bowl, John Chan said Phoenix diverted 73% of waste. This year, he told a council committee it was close to 93%.

“So between Feb. 4 and Feb. 12, the city’s public works department collected more than 101 tons of waste material from Super Bowl events at the Convention Center, downtown area and the entrance to Hance Park,” he said.

The city’s collection did not include inside Hance Park, where a multi-day festival took place, or trash and recyclables generated at private events. It’s estimated all Super Bowl events produced 2,000 tons of food and packaging waste. 

Chan said of the downtown waste diverted through city collections, 80% was recyclable material. New technology at Phoenix’s 27th Avenue compost facility helped the city divert a record amount. That’s where a machine is able to remove packaging, wrappers and other trash from food waste, allowing the composting process to begin.

According to the city, the food waste is mixed with green waste, like grass clippings, shrubs and twigs and, through the micro-organic process of aerobic respiration, it breaks down to clean compost over 40 to 60 days.