Tribe wins MLB Wild Card award for keeping our field green
The Cleveland Indians were recently awarded a Wild Card spot for MLB’s 2012 Green Glove Award, a competition designed to promote better environmental practices throughout the league. In recognition of the club’s sustainability efforts, Brad Mohr – the Assistant Director of Ballpark Operations at Progressive Field – was invited to the White House for a forum on sustainability in sports last year. Next month, he’ll be headed to Sydney and Melbourne to speak at the Sports Sustainability United Summit. He has also presented at the Green Sports Alliance Summit the past two years and is very active in the sustainability community in Northeast Ohio. TribeVibe caught up with this industry-leader and asked him a few questions about the Tribe’s green efforts.
TribeVibe: What did the Cleveland Indians do to improve their diversion rate — the percentage of waste materials diverted from traditional disposal — in 2012?
Brad Mohr: We continued to take a serious, thorough look at our trash and recycling procedures in 2012, which paid off in another dramatic drop in trash going to the landfill. The most impactful improvement was the composting of organic material. Organic material that can be composted is anything that will break down in a natural environment such as food prep scraps, leftover food that cannot be donated and grass clippings. Our organics are sent to a facility that makes and sells mulch. We began composting as a pilot program late 2010 and we discovered we could compost a great amount of our waste. We went full throttle on composting in 2011 and recycled over 20 tons of organics. With composting becoming more and more a part of our operation and culture with education and familiarity, we composted 53 tons of organic material in 2012. That amounts to 21% of all of our recycling weight.
We continued to be consistent recyclers of other materials by saving from the landfill:
- 34 tons of aluminum and plastic beverage containers
- 69.5 tons of cardboard
- 31 tons of paper
- 19 tons of metals
- 20 tons of wooden pallets
- 13 tons of fryer oil
- 2.5 tons of electronics
- and an astonishing 2/3 of a ton of light bulbs
All together, we recycled 248 tons of materials. Compare that with 408 tons of trash and we have a diversion rate of 38%.
The big story is the consistent and continued improvement of decreased trash and increased recycling. We started our recycling program in earnest after the 2007 season and since then have reduced our trash going to the landfill from 1260 tons to 408 tons and reduced the number of times the garbage truck picks up at Progressive Field from 254 times to 56 times. Because of that, we have seen a dramatic drop in the cost of waste hauling. Recycling has improved every year since the program began, with a first season weight of 139 tons in 2008 to 2012’s 248 tons. We can still improve on that by expanding the composting effort.
TV: How have the solar panels and windmill impacted the Indians’ green efforts?
BM: The solar array is a demonstration piece and is not designed to make an impact on our electric bill. Our array consists of 42 solar panels and produces around 10,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually. The electric needs of Progressive Field are ~19,000,000 kWh annually. Putting kWh in perspective, the typical American home consumes 10,000 kWh of electricity annually, so if I had out array on my home, I just may produce enough electricity to be self-sufficient. The point of the solar array is to inspire, educate and to prove that solar panels work practically at our latitude in Cleveland. Who knows, maybe a solar manufacturer will discover the many solar arrays in our community and decide to open a manufacturing plant and use our skilled labor force to start a new business.
The wind turbine is actually an experiment designed by Dr. Majid Rashidi, an engineering professor at Cleveland State University, and funded by the US Department of Energy. The turbine works on the principal that air molecules moving in the air hit the white plastic corkscrew-shaped apparatus and those molecules are deflected into the four turbines that are embedded in the apparatus. In essence, the corkscrew amplifies the speed of the wind making it faster and increasing the efficiency. Our wind turbine is the equivalent of a traditional three blade turbine with 32 foot blades. As with the solar array, the idea is not to shave electricity off of our bill, but to inspire and make and build a partnership with our neighbor Cleveland State University. Since the turbine has been installed, a license has been issued to a company to manufacture the turbine and apply it to the top of cell phone towers so cell service is uninterrupted in the event of a blackout. It makes me very proud to know all of this was done right here in Cleveland.
TV: What sustainability efforts are being planned for 2013?
BM: Fans will see additional recycling bins on the concourse, especially behind home plate and in the Kids Clubhouse — specially designed in Tribe colors with a batting helmet for a lid. Fans can recycle their aluminum cans and plastic bottles in any of our 185 recycling bins on the concourses. Much of what we will be concentrating on in 2013 is improving efficiencies behind-the-scenes and sorting recyclables on site. I hope to again increase our composted material tonnage and continue to discover new technologies and methods to recycle additional materials.
— TribeVibe Contributor Courtney Shilling