In April 2009, Saint Paul RiverCentre officials launched a long-term, multifaceted sustainability initiative with a mission to become a green leader among convention centers in the region. The neighboring Xcel Energy Center, home to the Minnesota Wild, joined the effort soon after when a number of shared resources were realized.
Green practices weren’t new to these facilities; recycling, energy efficiency and water conservation had been priorities for some time. However, officials implemented an ambitious, strategic plan that has encompassed multiple campus-wide initiatives over several years.
The first initiative, titled “50-50 in 2,” was focused on waste reduction across the Saint Paul RiverCentre and Xcel Energy Center campus. The goal of the two-year initiative was to reduce the amount of trash generated at the facilities by 50% while increasing the recycling rate to 50%. To accomplish this goal, 630 recycling receptacles were purchased so that every trash container on every level of each facility would have an accompanying recycling bin. In addition, the facilities made an extensive transition to compostable products and all processes and behind-the-scenes infrastructure were redesigned to make recycling and composting as efficient as possible.
The two-year timeline of this goal concluded in July of 2011. These facilities not only reached their goals, they far exceeded them. As of March 2012, these facilities reduced trash by 60% (over 1.4 million pounds per year) and increased their annual recycling rate to 54.5%.
Since that time, without setting a new goal, the annual recycling rate has increased to 56% and the total waste stream has fell to just over 50,000 pounds annually. In the first quarter of 2012, the campus recycled a record 45.3 tons of commingle items (cans, bottles, cups & tubs).