Smarter Business: Greening the Games

Professional sports team up with NRDC to reduce their environmental impact.

United States Tennis Association

To solve the serious environmental problems facing our planet, we need to shift our culture toward more sustainable practices. Sports are hugely influential and can play a significant role in causing a ‘green’ ripple effect of enormous proportions, encouraging industries and consumers alike to improve the choices they make every day. I’m proud to have co-founded GreenSlam and help launch the greening of the US Open and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with NRDC, and I applaud the work they are doing to green professional sports." -- Tennis Legend, Billie Jean King


US Open logo

"Our courts may be blue, but we're thinking green." That's the environmental pledge of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), which hosts more than 700,000 fans each year during the two weeks of the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

USTA launched its greening effort at the 2008 event, including the tournament’s first water bottle and aluminum recycling program, and has continued to make strong improvements every Open since.

"We understand the unique opportunity an event like the US Open has," says Lucy S. Garvin, "not only to change our own behavior and practices to preserve the environment, but to also use our influence with the fans, sponsors, vendors and partners."

NRDC and the USTA team up with tennis superstars like Venus Williams to encourage recycling, conserve energy, reduce costs, and protect America's wild places. See other green sports videos.

Just by switching the paper used to print programs to 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, the USTA saved 2,123 gallons of wastewater and avoided emitting 441 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases and 129 pounds of solid waste.

In partnership with NRDC and Billie Jean King's GreenSlam, the USTA commissioned an environmental consultant to review all the operations at the National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y., and recommend improvements that could help the environment.

The USTA will implement many impressive environmental initiatives during the 2011 US Open:

  • 94 tons of plastic, metal, glass and cardboard will be collected throughout the site and recycled.
  • 70,000 tennis balls used during the matches and practices will be reused by USTA tennis programs or donated to community and youth organizations throughout the country.
  • 20,000 pounds of food will be donated to local communities.
  • Over 50 tons of food waste will be collected and turned in to compost for landscape and farming uses.
  • All food serviceware in the Food Village will be 100 percent compostable (New 2011 Initiative!).
  • 985 gallons of food grease will be converted into biodiesel fuel.
  • Fans will receive purchases in the US Open souvenir-style shopping bag designed for re-use (with many environmentally-friendly souvenirs on offer).
  • 60 percent of the player and VIP transportation fleet will be made up of hybrid vehicles.
  • 100 percent of electricity consumed during the Open will be covered by Green-e certified wind renewable energy certificates.
  • All paper products used on the grounds--from tickets to napkins--will be made up of at least 30 percent post-consumer waste.

Tennis superstars like Mike and Bob Bryan to encourage recycling, conserve energy, reduce costs, and protect America's wild places. See other green sports videos.

2010 US Open greening initiatives included:

  • Recycling receptacles covering 100 percent of the National Tennis Center grounds (up from 15 percent in 2008). About 18,000 to 20,000 tennis ball cans were recycled during the event.
  • All of the tournament’s electricity was generated by wind turbines.
  • The 2.4 million napkins used in the general concession area were made of 90 percent post-consumer content.
  • Wilson tennis balls were also recycled -- resulting in up to 60,000 used tennis balls provided to community and youth sports programs after the Open.

"If we just take small steps," says King, tennis legend and winner of 39 Grand Slam tennis titles, "it will lead to big change."

Learn More: US Open Green Initiatives

Greening Facts: Environmental Achievements of the 2010 US Open (PDF)

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