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State Farm Arena: NBA Hawks 2021 Round 1 Playoffs Game 4

Atlanta, Georgia
Certification level: 
Percent of Overall Diversion Achieved: 
Facility Size: 
680,000 sq. ft.
Type of Operation: 
Sporting event
Project Owner: 
State Farm Arena
Project Overview: 

State Farm Arena is focused on being true to Atlanta and practicing sustainability to lessen their environmental footprint. On Sunday, May 30, 2021. Game 4 of the Atlanta Hawks’ first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks earned TRUE Silver Event Certification. This marked the first sporting event in the world to receive that recognition. The sold-out game, with 16,458 fans in attendance, fittingly ended in a 113-96 Hawks’ victory.

State Farm Arena’s zero waste commitment encompassed all aspects of the event, including but not limited to sustainable sourcing policies, volunteer and community engagement programs, and reduction and diversion planning. Planning for the playoff game involved several months of close collaboration with the GBCI, waste haulers, entities, State Farm Arena leadership & staff, and volunteers.

Quantifying State Farm Arena’s waste reduction helped us to understand how much unnecessary waste was avoided before it was ever created. More than 15,000 zip ties (equivalent to 600 pounds) were placed on seats to enforce social distancing during COVID-19. During Game 3 and 4, those 600 pounds of zip ties were removed from seats to accommodate full capacity playoff games. All 600 pounds of zip ties were collected, organized, and repurposed for reuse in building operations and maintenance. About 165 pounds of paper waste was avoided by utilizing electronic tickets and parking passes. As part of this endeavor, the Hawks were assisted by various organizations such as the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM), which aids in creating various recycling solutions for the City of Atlanta. CompostNow enabled the event to compost all our compostable service ware, cutlery and packaging (7,756 pounds).

In addition, the venue activated 15 volunteers, teachers from Jonesboro Middle School, who joined for the event as members of the arena’s ‘Zero Waste Squad’. In their roles, they aided guests at the venue in the process of properly sorting to reduce contamination. Additionally, Levy Restaurants, the official food and beverage partner of the Hawks and State Farm Arena, helped in the supply chain process. Pritchard Sports & Entertainment, the team’s official housekeeping partner, also assisted operationally with the collection and sorting of all materials.

The TRUE Event application and certification process helped State Farm Arena validate and measure their success in achieving zero waste as well as helping the Arena make progress in their long-term goal to become a zero-waste facility.

“As we continue our journey in making State Farm Arena a zero-waste venue, we are grateful for our staff and fans who all worked together to earn this certification from GBCI,” said Sofi Armenakian, Director of Sustainability and Operations for the Hawks and State Farm Arena. “We recognize how important it is for sports to create change and know this is just another way how a sports venue can contribute positively and act sustainably in their community.”

Learn more about their ground-breaking event here.