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Mercedes-Benz Stadium goes green: first stadium in the world to achieve zero waste

The journey to zero waste at the stadium happens before fans even step foot in the building.

ATLANTA — It's the home of the Falcons and Atlanta United. The city's used to seeing Mercedes-Benz Stadium lit up in red -- but today -- they're going green!

The stadium just announced a prestigious zero waste certification; it's the first in the world for a venue of its' size and it took just as big of an effort to achieve it.

Teams at the Benz worked for more than 32,000 hours this year to get there. The journey to zero waste at the stadium happens before fans even step foot in the building.

The sustainability team makes sure nothing goes to waste. They went to great lengths to do so, like taking three years to find the right compostable straw or having an ongoing search for the right trash bag.

"We get real heavy bags, and the bags don't perform and we end up creating a double or triple mess," said Senior Director of Operations Adam Fullerton. 

Administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), TRUE certification recognizes buildings and projects which have implemented the foundational programs and policies of sustainable waste management and reduction practices, which contribute to positive environmental, health and economic outcomes.

"To some fans, it might not be important yet. Part of what we are doing is education. And whether that's the city or the fans who come to the stadium, what we are doing is showing maybe a way of operating a little differently," he said. 

Teams at the stadium worked more than 32,000 hours this year alone to streamline the process.

"We want to keep our message simple. It's recycle bottles and cans and compost everything else. And that's the main goal is to keep the options simple so they can enjoy the game and they don't have to worry about doing the right thing, we gave them the option to do the right thing in the simplest way possible," said Sustainability Coordinator Andrew Bohenko.

H said the stadium hired a local cabinet maker to refurbish the receptacles for trash - even the trash cans are reusable.

"That shows that we're not only diverting materials at a 90% diversion for any specific event, we are doing it on a daily basis," he said. 

Bohenko said crews work around the clock, overnight, sorting every item thrown away by hand. It's a difficult process.

"It does feel like that from time to time, which is why you have to take it one piece at a time, and you have to work responsibly and safely to get through it," he said. 

Stadium teams work with corporate partners like, Waste Management, Georgia Power, Delta, Novelis, Phade, and Coca-Cola to get the job done.

The stadium is audited every month to ensure 90% of the waste never sees the inside of a landfill and they want to get to 100%

"It is a journey, it's a lifestyle for us to operate this way, and we won't stop operating this way anytime soon," said Fullerton.

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