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In a city named Greenville, one might expect its citizens to have a certain respect for the environment. But the team behind the Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville, S.C. has taken the cause to a whole new level, becoming the first performing arts center in the country to generate zero landfill waste. The key to their success is a partnership with a local, family-run and environmentally friendly waste management company, WasteCo Inc. As explained in a recent Peace Center press release, the multi-step recycling process works like this:
All waste from the Peace Center is taken directly to VLS Recovery Services or Greenpointe Recycling Center. Once there, the material is sorted for recyclable material. The unsalvageable material is shredded and taken to a gasification site. The material is then fed into a gasifier, where the waste and oxygen create synthetic gas (syngas). This syngas can then be cleaned for any impurities and used for energy.
The program is especially impressive given that the Peace Center is no small outfit. Occupying a six acre downtown site where a textile plant and a mayonnaise factory once operated, the campus boasts seven different venues in addition to administrative and production offices. They draw more than 360,000 people a year and present over 600 events including, this season, the national tours of Newsies and Matilda the Musical. The Center generates some $25 million a year in economic activity.
Maureen Shallcross, VP of Operations for the Peace Center, spearheaded the zero waste effort, and found no resistance from any of the involved parties. Indeed, quite the opposite. “Eliminating the need for staff to sort was a value added,” she observed, and because WasteCo was their existing vendor, there was continuity on the service side of the equation. In addition to the zero waste success, Ms. Shallcross pointed to their other green initiatives which includes battery recycling and an annual electronics recycling program. Also, they have recently completed an ASHRAE Level III energy assessment and will use the results to plan short term and long term cost-effective energy conservation measures. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and an expansive website all play a part in getting the green word out to their audience, alongside mentions in the local media.
When asked if she had any planning suggestions for the Broadway community, Ms. Shallcross gave validity to the BGA’s methodology: “Find an individual within your organization with passion about sustainability and charge him/her with pulling together a green team across departments to ensure institutional commitment to a program.” Our Green Captains program falls right in line with this solid advice.