We’re going to tell you how we reduced our waste by 74% in 2021 compared to 2019
The Salomon Ultra Pirineu 2019, with 3,924 registered participants, generated a total of 5,067 kg of rubbish (or an equivalent of 1.3 kg per runner), of which 18% was organic, 24% was packaging, 16% was paper/cardboard and 42% was waste.
This calculation was made with estimated data by the selective collection company Containers del Berguedà SL and Tractaments Ecològics, SA, and includes all waste generated by the organization, sponsors, public and runners.
In 2021 the Salomon Ultra Pirineu organization set itself the challenge of halving the amount of waste; but to accomplish this, many other actors needed to be involved:
First, it was necessary to monitor the rubbish collected and separate it properly. For this we needed the help of the Consell Comarcal del Berguedà (the regional council), which manages rubbish collection in Berguedà. This region currently leads waste management in Catalonia, with a recycling rate of 70% thanks to the selective “door to door” collection that it manages through the company Tractaments Ecològics, SA. They provided us with all the buckets and containers to be able to handle separated collection in Bagà and at all the refreshment stations. Once the containers were filled, they were transferred to the collection points provided for the occasion, so that in 2021 the waste management company could give us much more precise data on the waste generated.
This was a lot of effort, but it would have been in vain if we had not also enjoyed the collaboration of our volunteers. From the outset they were fully involved in ensuring that everyone separated their rubbish, depositing it in the corresponding bin before the rubbish collection team took it to the collection points.
But recycling well was not enough; it was necessary to reduce the waste by half, and to do that we had to take bold measures that would affect the runners and the sponsors:
1- It was made obligatory in all the races to provide reusable cups and plates, to be able to eliminate the one-time use items at all the refreshment stations. A change in mind-set that runners understood and accepted from the very beginning.
2- All the paper advertising were eliminated from the runners kit, and only the number, map and the innovative commemorative Salomon t-shirt made wholly from recycled containers were included. Runners were also given the option of choosing whether they needed a paper bag for their kits. Most rejected it!
3- The finish line carpet was eliminated and all sponsors were asked to bring only reusable advertising material, with single-use linear banners (or other advertising material) banned. Everyone’s response was also one of maximum collaboration!
4- The purchase of over-packaged products for refreshment stations was reduced as much as possible.
5- The ripeness of the fruit and expiry dates of the fresh products destined for the refreshment stations was checked, not only to guarantee their quality for the date of the race, but also so that they would last as many days after the race as possible so that they could be used by charitable entities such as Cáritas.
And the result was much better than anticipated!
In 2021, with 3,641 registered runners, a total of 1,300 kg of rubbish (or the equivalent of 0.5 kg per runner) was generated, of which 19% was organic, 23% was packaging, 19% was paper and cardboard, and 39% was waste. Or, in other words, a 74% reduction in rubbish compared to 2019, and therefore much more than the 50% goal we had set!
This was a collective success that demonstrates that when common sense prevails and entities, companies, and individuals come together for a common cause, the most ambitious goals can be achieved. No doubt this should guide us on the long road still ahead of us in the race we are all participating in, toward a sustainable world.
To everyone who was part of the success: runners, volunteers, sponsors, Bagà Town Hall, Consell Comarcal del Berguedà, Containers del Berguedà and Tractaments Ecològics: Thank you very much and congratulations!