SBJ/Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Waste Management showcases green efforts

In 43 years, Waste Management has made a living by collecting what everyone is getting rid of, and it’s helped it grow into a $13 billion-a-year company. But it’s the recycling and “green” aspect of its business that the company wants to emphasize through its title sponsorship of this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The tournament, which annually draws the PGA Tour’s largest crowd with 500,000 fans during the event week, has long been known as “The Greatest Show on Grass,” but Waste Management is going with a new slogan this week: “The Greenest Show on Grass.”

“This is part of a big evolution for our company,” said David Aardsma, Waste Management’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “People don’t really understand what we do. This tournament helps showcase what we do in terms of recycling and alternative energy, and shows firsthand what our company is all about. People still think of us as a garbage company, and we have evolved so far past that. This week is our stage to get that story across in a compelling fashion.”

Indicators of Waste Management’s recycling efforts can be found all over the TPC Scottsdale course. The company is doing more than just putting out recycling bins, it’s rewarding fans with coupons from other tournament sponsors for their recycling efforts.

Vending machines positioned around the course will enable fans to scan the item to be recycled and placed in the appropriate bin. After submitting the item for recycling, the vending machine produces a coupon from a secondary tournament sponsor.

After collecting 205 tons of trash and recycling 62 percent of it last year, Waste Management intends to increase
recycling vending stations 2
its percentage by adding food recycling this week, as well as incorporating reused “gray” water in bathrooms. The company’s recycling ambassadors will be on the course to answer questions from fans.

Additionally, trash-collecting trucks will run on natural gas and Waste Management’s hospitality tent will be solar-powered. When the tournament concludes, Waste Management will take the wood, carpet and other building materials from the hospitality village and put them to use in other construction projects.

In perhaps the ultimate example of recycling in golf, Waste Management’s floating logo next to the 18th fairway will be filled with 144,000 golf balls that were recovered from water hazards.
recycling vending stations
The company will use the Phoenix Open to highlight recycling and alternative energy.

Mike McQuaid, the event’s chairman, said the tournament and Waste Management have jointly bought $35,000 worth of green T-shirts and towels that they’ll distribute to fans on Saturday during the third round as part of a “green-out” day. Players have been asked to wear green as well.

“The green angle is something we’ve used heavily in all of our marketing,” McQuaid said. “It’s something that has really caught on. We’ve got six or seven other tournaments coming here to see how we handle recycling.”
Waste Management, which counts 15 other PGA Tour events as its clients, is bringing close to 200 guests to the tournament to show off its recycling efforts. Among them are colleges interested in improving their recycling efforts, manufacturers and industrial companies.

“This is a great educational forum to show people ways to ‘green up’ their business,” Aardsma said. “We’ll also have some local customers from the Phoenix area and others that are even coming on their own dime to see it. It’s a great platform for us because everybody might be familiar with what we do, but this helps build greater awareness and show others how to run a business more efficiently and responsibly.”

Waste Management, which primarily handles its sports marketing in-house, is in the second year of a seven-year contract to title sponsor the event. Title sponsorships for tournaments on network TV (the Phoenix Open is on CBS) typically go for $7 million to $8 million a year and include ad units on CBS and Golf Channel.

Waste Management struck this deal just 45 days in advance of the 2010 tournament, which didn’t allow it enough time to fully implement its recycling theme, but this year’s tournament takes a greater step toward sending the message about the company’s emphasis on recycling and alternative energy.

“A significant part of our business comes from sporting venues now, college and pro,” Aardsma said. “It really fits with where we’re going as a company.”

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