By Melissa O’Brien
As part of PHS's year-round work, sustainability is always top of mind. For the annual PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, the opportunities for sustainability are greatly expanded due to the 10-acre Show site. The sustainability goal of the 2023 Flower Show was to build upon the previous year's achievements and make significant strides toward becoming a zero-waste event. By implementing a comprehensive waste management plan and fostering a culture of environmental responsibility, the 2023 Flower Show managed to divert an impressive 81.5% of waste from landfills.
In this post, we will delve into the exciting initiatives undertaken to make the event a sustainability success. Join us as we explore the various aspects of waste management, emissions reduction, and community engagement that contributed to the Show's success.
Throughout the event, a staggering 563.74 tons of material were carefully handled and donated, thanks to our community groups and donation partners. The figures below demonstrate our commitment to reusing and diverting waste from the landfill. Here's a breakdown of the various materials and their respective disposal methods/companies handling the items:
- Single Stream Recycling: 4.04 tons (Republic)
- Cardboard: 20.87 tons (Republic)
- Wood: 11.52 tons (Republic through 3rd Party)
- Plastic: 2.07 tons (Republic through 3rd Party)
- Metal: 0.87 tons (Republic through 3rd Party & SD Richmond Scrap)
- Green Compost: 12.68 tons (County Conservation Co.)
- Textile: 0.0445 tons (FabScrap)
- Concrete/Stone Block: 354.8 tons (JJD Recycling)
- C&D Recycling: 51.63 tons (R&R Recycling)
- Mixed Waste: 46.39 tons (R&R Recycling)
- Landfill Waste: 57.91 tons (Republic through 3rd Party & Quickway Transfer Station)
- Food Digester/Composter: 0.3435 tons (Aramark onsite Food Digester)
- Food Donated: 0.1825 tons (Philabundance/Food Connect)
- Miscellaneous Donations: 0.385 tons (Habitat for Humanity)
9 Sustainability Strategies at the Show
- Getting an Early Start: To ensure the effective execution of sustainability efforts, we began early by identifying the materials needed for the event and determining their proper waste stream or potential reuse applications. All Show-focused departments participated in evaluating the sustainability of the materials they used, including exhibitors and vendors. By encouraging their involvement, we maximized waste diversion.
- Prep and Orientation: Housekeeping crews received training to familiarize themselves with our sustainability goals and assist in proper waste disposal. It is crucial to engage all staff, crew, and guests to reduce waste production throughout the event.
- Plant and Material Reuse: We prioritized donating plants and materials during and after the Show, with the help of volunteers and our donation partner Habitat for Humanity. Reusing these items within PHS projects reduced waste and costs.
- Water Refill Stations: To minimize plastic waste, water refill stations were strategically placed throughout the venue, encouraging guests to use refillable containers. Subaru of America also distributed refillable water pouches to support this effort.
- Food Donations: Collaboration with organizations like Philabundance and Food Connect enabled us to donate 365 lbs of food, reducing food waste sent to the landfill.
- Compostable and Paper Product Use: We encouraged vendors to use compostable food and drink containers. In the future, we aim to convert all vendors to offer only compostable, non-plastic options in the future.
- Digital Ticketing and Receipts: By implementing digital ticketing and encouraging paperless transactions, we reduced paper waste. Expanding paperless transactions throughout the show, including food and marketplace vendors, is a goal for future events.
- Emissions: Emissions were recorded using the amount of electricity that was used. With 482,122.34 kWh of electricity used, we had 280.63 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Through the PA Convention Center’s supply contract, 50% of those emissions were used as a renewable power source.
- Green Team Volunteers: These volunteers are a dedicated group, passionate about sustainability or new to it and eager to learn more. These volunteers completed work that greatly helped our sustainability efforts throughout the Show, such as assisting with donations and helping guests properly dispose of their waste.
The success of our sustainability efforts at the 2023 Flower Show was a collective achievement. Our dedicated team, housekeeping staff, volunteers, vendors, exhibitors, and donation partners contributed to the impressive 81.5% waste diversion rate. Lessons learned from this year's Show will guide us in improving future PHS events.
Join us as we continue our journey toward a greener, more sustainable future at PHS. Together, we can create meaningful change and inspire others to embrace sustainability.