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This Year’s NBA All-Star Game Was Zero-Waste

State Farm Arena in Atlanta recently hosted the 70th NBA All-Star Game, and this year there was more reason to celebrate. The arena, which is home to the Atlanta Hawks, announced that through a partnership with Rubicon it was able to deliver the first zero-waste NBA All-Star Game, “successfully divert[ing] 97 percent of fan-generated waste.” Rubicon is a waste and recycling solutions software platform.

Through the alliance, Rubicon assists State Farm Arena and the Hawks in collecting and hauling waste through its innovative software and equipment. Additionally, Rubicon provides creative recycling solutions and offers logistical and operational aid. 

And the zero-waste won’t end at the All-Star Game. State Farm Arena – which hosts around 200 events annually – confirmed that starting with the second half of the Hawks’ 2020-21 season, it will continue its partnership with Rubicon to make all of the venue’s future events zero-waste.

“As we strive to make State Farm Arena a sustainable venue for all events, we are proud that our zero-waste program exceeded expectations during this marquee event,” said Sofi Armenakian, Director of Operations and Sustainability for the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, in the release. “Our continuing partnership with Rubicon made this achievement possible and will help us set a new standard on how a sports venue can contribute in their community’s sustainability efforts and how we play green off the court.”

State Farm Arena says that it also received support in its zero-waste endeavor from the Atlanta-based Center for Hard to Recycle Materials as well as from 15 volunteers from the City of Atlanta Sustainability Ambassadors program, “which aided guests at the venue in the process of properly sorting to reduce contamination.” Levy Restaurants – State Farm Arena and the Hawks’ food and beverage partner – aided in the supply chain process, and the team’s housekeeping partner, Pritchard Sports, and Entertainment, helped with material collection and sorting.

State Farm Arena and Rubicon previously collaborated during the lead-up to Super Bowl LIII – held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta – to keep around 12 tons of waste out of landfills. The two also teamed up to carry out the venue’s $192.5 million transformation, which included removing 12,500 seats, leading to the recovery of 64 tons of recyclable material.

“From Rubicon’s founding, it was our goal to reinvent the waste and recycling industry,” said Founder and CEO of Rubicon Nate Morris in the release. “We are thrilled to partner with the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena on our shared mission to end waste, and look forward to building on this partnership in the future.”
In 2009, State Farm Arena became the first NBA arena to receive the LEED Certification for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance. The Hawks Branch Merchandising Team switched from plastic to paper bags during the 2020 season and any products bought from a Hawks Shop are distributed in bags made of all-compostable cardboard. State Farm Arena says this saves at least 36,000 bags per year. All this is resulting in an Atlanta Hawks team that is impressing fans on and off the court.


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