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3 min read

If a Century-old Stadium Achieved Zero Waste, You Can Too

If a Century-old Stadium Achieved Zero Waste, You Can Too

How the L.A. Memorial Coliseum Hit its Highest Waste Diversion Rate Ever

While fans cheer during football games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the stadium staff is celebrating a significant win off the field.

Over the past year, the Coliseum hit its highest waste diversion rate ever of 91.74%, surpassing the industry standard of 90% to achieve Zero Waste. It’s an impressive achievement for a 100-year-old facility fully embracing sustainability, one of the most important socio-economic principles of the 21st century.

“This year is a milestone anniversary for the Coliseum, and we are striving to be bigger, bolder, and better than ever,” said Matthew Buswell, Director of Stadium Operations. “This is why we are so proud of our sustainability achievements – even though we are 100 years old, and our infrastructure is outdated, we all can take steps in sustainable practices.”

The Zero Waste Program Started Small

The Coliseum, managed by the University of Southern California (USC), started its Zero Waste program back in 2015, a year before Buswell joined USC. Buswell says the program started small, with signage to let fans know where to place compostable and recyclable items.

“We used to say we had a ‘goalie’. On event day, we had someone stand in front of the compactor making sure the right items were going in the right areas,” said Buswell.

Buswell credits BradyPLUS regional company WAXIE Sanitary Supply with helping the stadium’s Zero Waste program get off the ground by providing sponsorship, compostable products, and signage. The signage helps fans differentiate between compostable, recyclable, and disposable products.

“The first round of sorting starts with the fans themselves. If you can guide them to place all of their cans in recycling, that makes it easier for our sort of team,” said Buswell. “We placed WAXIE stickers on our trash cans to enhance fan engagement and increase visibility. This was a very important step to get our program off the ground and running.”

Five to Six Tons of Compost Per Game

In addition to being home to the USC Trojans, the Coliseum hosts countless other high-profile events, including the Los Angeles Rams, who played at the stadium from 2016 to 2019 while SoFi Stadium was being built. In 2022, there were more than 200 events at the Coliseum, including major concerts and NASCAR. As you can imagine, events with tens of thousands of fans generate as much waste as some U.S. cities.

“We’re talking five to six tons of compost a game and three to four tons of recycling,” said Buswell. “Preventing five tons of anything from going to a landfill is pretty cool, so that helps motivate us.”

A collage of images of LA Memorial Coliseum's sustainability efforts

Courtesy: L.A. Memorial Coliseum

Steps to Achieving Zero Waste

Buswell says the Coliseum staff focuses on four key areas to accomplish Zero Waste:

Executing Sustainable Waste Streams

Committing to serving and using only compostable and recyclable products, including all vendors. The team conducts audits on concession stands to ensure compliance.

Identifying Sort Team

Assigning custodial staff that is willing and able to tear open trash bags and sort the items. It takes the Coliseum sort team about four days to sort through one game’s worth of trash.

USC Leadership Support & Funding

Securing approval and support from USC leadership. In fact, USC President Carol Folt has made programs such as Zero Waste a mandate, so sustainability awareness and practices have skyrocketed across campus. Leadership support also enabled the stadium to receive extra funds for more expensive products, hire more staff to sort trash, and initiate other processes.

Collaboration with Trash & Recycling Haulers

Developing strong relationships with trash & recycling haulers to remove large amounts of compost and recycling items and ensure alignment with all parties involved in the Zero Waste program.


"We activate our Zero Waste protocols for every large-scale event,” said Buswell. “Our next successful step is to integrate Zero Waste 24/7 within the facility.”

Now that the Coliseum has successfully achieved Zero Waste, the staff is looking to expand sustainability efforts to other areas. Buswell has been collaborating with BradyPLUS facility care experts on ways to shift from their current chemical usage to certified green cleaning products.

In closing, Buswell shared some encouragement. “Put people in places to succeed, and you’ll start to see the benefit.”

You Can Achieve Zero Waste Too

If you’re looking to reduce your environmental impact and achieve Zero Waste, our industry experts at BradyPLUS can help you accomplish that in a cost-effective and efficient way. Contact us for a full sustainability assessment, including identifying green cleaning supplies to take your business to the next level.

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