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Home Field: TPC Scottsdale/WM Phoenix Open, Scottsdale, AZ

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The TPC Scottsdale golf course has been praised as one of America’s top golf courses by the experts at “Golfweek,” “GolfPass,” and “Conde Nast Traveler.” Its famous 16th hole features stadium seating, creating an unusually boisterous atmosphere at a match. TPC Scottsdale is also the longtime home for the WM Phoenix Open, often called “The Greatest Show On Grass” because the nearly 90-year-old event ranks as the world’s best-attended golf tournament. 

After becoming the Open’s title sponsor in 2010, WM, as in Waste Management Inc., has partnered with the Thunderbirds (the civic organization that runs the tournament) to turn the Phoenix Open into “The Greenest Show On Grass” as well. The Open has been hailed as the world’s largest zero-waste sporting event for over a decade. 

TPC Scottsdale became part of Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program in 1995. It was the first course to achieve the Golf Environment Organization‘s sustainable course certification, a distinction it has maintained since 2019.

Photo Courtesy WM 

2019 was also the year that the WM Phoenix Open became the first golf organization to sign the United Nation’s Sports for Climate Action initiative, which includes objectives like reaching a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and net zero operations by 2040. Toward that end, the tournament established a new greenhouse gas (GHG) baseline in 2022, aiming to reduce its carbon footprint further and inspire others to follow suit. 

Since WM is in the recycling and waste management business, it makes sense that it would excel in its recycling and waste programs at TPC Scottsdale. Landfill bins were replaced with compost and recycle bins on the course going back to 2011. 

The impressive recycling effort at the 2022 tournament included over 50% of the signage reused from past events, with nearly 85% of 2022’s signage stored for the future. The daily tickets, parking passes, parking maps, and other printed materials used paper with significant post-consumer recycled content. Additionally, 170 pounds of liquor and wine bottles were recycled into reusable glasses, and nearly five tons of carpet was donated. 

Photo Courtesy WM Phoniex Open  

The WM Phoenix Open uses several different methods to achieve its zero-waste threshold. 

More than 62% of the waste at the 2022 tournament was recycled, with 22.5% getting composted, nearly 13% going to energy sources, and the rest being donated. The majority of the WM’s tournament trucks are now powered by compressed natural gas, while biodiesel is the choice for the Open’s generators to cut down on harmful emissions created by diesel fuel. 

Overall, the electricity purchased for the course’s operations is 100% renewable. Moreover, WM offsets all of the tournament’s Scope 1 emissions (directly produced) and most of its Scope 3 emissions (produced by its supply chain vendors) through carbon offset purchases. It has offset more than 900 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by supporting the Crow Lake Wind project, the largest wind power project owned solely by a cooperative in the U.S.

Since Scottsdale is situated in the Sonoran Desert, water is obviously an ongoing issue. TPC Scottsdale has a high management system that maximizes the reuse of gray water. Repurposing cooking and cleaning water in portable toilets alone has saved more than 55,000 gallons of water since 2011. Furthermore, Water Restoration Certificates have restored around 370 million gallons of water to assist Arizona Tribal Nations living in the Verde River Valley. 

Photo Courtesy WM 

Giving back to the community is central for WM and the Phoenix Open. Over the past dozen years, WM and the Thunderbirds have raised more than $110 million for local charities, 

Likewise, the tournament has emphasized hospitality access for underserved groups and presenting activities to promote youth engagement on First Tee Dream Day, held on the Tuesday of Tournament Week.

A high priority has also been placed on raising environmental awareness and involvement among fans. The Open has long employed WM’s “Recycling Right” education platform to guide fans on properly using the recycling bins. The tournament’s “Green Scene” also has presented various activities to educate fans on environmental issues. For example, the social media-based #GreenBucketList Sweepstakes offered unique prizes for those who shared recycling tips. 

An installation on water restoration provides water conservation tips along with showing how much water it takes to create everyday items like blue jeans or a hamburger. The 2022 Open even staged cornhole games to explore sustainability topics, from composting to GHG emissions. 

Photo Courtesy WM

The WM’s engagement efforts have also extended to vendors and players. Currently, every Phoenix Open vendor has agreed contractually to the reuse, donation, recycling, or composting of all materials brought on-site. Golfers were not only enlisted to do sustainability PSAs, but they also received educational information on the Open’s zero waste mission and its other environmental initiatives. 

Each year, the TPC Scottsdale invites players, caddies, volunteers, and fans to cover the course in green to demonstrate their support for environmental sustainability. It’s the type of inclusive program that exemplifies WM and TPC Scottsdale’s holistic approach to sustainability.

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