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The GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf has recognized the Waste Management Phoenix Open as the first golf tournament in the world to achieve “GEO Certified Tournament” status for five consecutive years for the event’s sustainability leadership.
The 2021 tournament, played February 1-7 at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona, received the International Golf Sustainability Award from the Scotland-based organization by completing a bespoke program for golf tournaments including submission of documents and evidence, third party verification performed by the Council for Responsible Sport (the official verifier for GEO certified tournaments in North America), thorough review by GEO and agreeing to a series of points d ‘continuous improvement.
Hosted by the Thunderbirds, an Arizona-based civic organization, and sponsored by Houston-based Waste Management, the WM Phoenix Open became a GEO certified tournament in 2017 when the PGA Tour event became the world’s first GEO certified tournament.
Highlights of the 2021 tournament include:
- A comprehensive sustainability report that describes all impacts and initiatives of the tournament.
- Organizing the annual Waste Management Sustainability Forum, attended by virtually over 3,200 people.
- Players received a gift of Refresh Glass, made from 100% recycled glass from the 2020 tournament or a local community business, to highlight the circular economy. Each giveaway included a quick guide to recycling and composting on the course as well as sustainability metrics on tournament initiatives related to water restoration, greenhouse gas emissions management and zero waste. Waste Management COO John Morris added a message to PGA Tour players about best practice modeling and the company’s commitment to the environment.
- A strong procurement plan and the “2021 WM Phoenix Open Sustainability Requirements” program were actively reinforced with morning registrations and training of volunteers at all concession stands to identify and correct misunderstandings.
- A new interactive and educational fan element on water management was part of the 2021 WM Phoenix Open Sustainability Tour in a virtual format. Virtual visitors from all over the world could click on links to learn more about water conservation and restoration initiatives. It was a continuation of a long-standing collaboration with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s “Change the Course” campaign.
- Completed a third-party validation from the global UL certification body for the ninth year to demonstrate the tournament’s zero waste commitment, achieving a “100% landfill diversion rate with 11% incineration with recovery of energy. “
“The WM Phoenix Open continues to set the bar for a sustainable golf tournament, and being GEO certified for five consecutive years is a remarkable achievement,” said Jonathan Smith, executive director of the GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf. “Each year the Thunderbirds and WM strive to continuously improve and innovate, and their vision and leadership is truly inspiring in the mission to accelerate sustainability in and through golf. Congratulations to all participants.
“It’s amazing to build on an 87-year legacy of hosting the tournament with these sustainability initiatives,” said Michael Golding, president of the WM Phoenix Open tournament. “The Thunderbirds are proud to align with WM on their mission to work towards a more sustainable future by prioritizing zero waste initiatives and emissions reduction efforts at the WM Phoenix Open.”
“The Council for Responsible Sport was delighted to verify the fifth consecutive attempt at certification of the WM Phoenix Open to the GEO Voluntary Sustainability Standard for Golf Tournaments,” said Shelley Villalobos, Executive Director of the Council for Responsible Sport. “The certification criteria are rigorous, but again, and amid exceptional uncertainty due to the necessary COVID-19 precautions, WM and The Thunderbirds have proven their ability to put values into action, using the event not only to host a big competition. and show, but to generate the necessary funds for worthy social service causes in the greater Phoenix area, while minimizing the ecological impacts of the event in terms of waste, water and greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse that modify the climate.
The 2021 tournament marked WM’s 12th year as title sponsor of the WM Phoenix Open. Over the past 12 years, WM has made the WM Phoenix Open one of the most sustainable sporting events on the planet by taking a zero waste approach through reuse, recycling, composting, donation and the creation of energy, with more than 11 million pounds of diverted material.