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  • Broad Street Run is en Route to “Zero Waste” broad-street-truck Full view

    Broad Street Run is en Route to “Zero Waste”

    Zero Waste and Litter Director Nic Esposito wastes no time getting down to business. (…Get it?)

    This past Sunday, 40,000 runners raced down Broad Street for the 38th annual Blue Cross Broad Street Run. Add thousands of spectators, and there’s a formula for a LOT of waste afterward. (And you know how I feel about race waste...)

    broad street run waste

    But that doesn’t mean we have to compromise our sustainability goals as a city.

    As Esposito says, “Runners have a great experience, but we can care about the environment as well.” Esposito is determined to lessen the city’s impact and incorporated zero waste principles for Sunday’s run.

    For example, take all those cups that runners use to take a swig of water or Gatorade that end up on the ground. They’re all composted. But it took a mindful switch to make that happen.

    Many modern “paper” cups are lined with plastic – polyethylene – which makes them nonrecyclable. (Gross, right?) According to Esposito, this wasn’t always the case. Back in the day, cups were commonly coated with carnauba wax, which is compostable and earth-friendly. However, people complained because when the cups got hot, there’d be a waxy film on the top. Companies switched to plastic in response to consumer complaints, also making them destined for the landfill.

    Luckily, the city chose the eco-friendly carnauba wax for runners to compost these cups. (Can’t everyone else just follow suit?)

    This is just one initiative of the now famous Waste Watchers program, which started in 2011 to cut the amount of waste contamination for the city’s large-scale events, specifically the Philadelphia Marathon. But as Parks and Rec hosts both the Marathon and Broad Street Run, it made sense to carry over the Waste Watchers program over to both running traditions.

    As Esposito says,

    “It’s a great day for runners to enjoy the lifeline of the city as they run down Broad Street. We also want people to mindful about the waste and keep Broad Street clean.”

    Broad Street Run: Zero Waste Results

    How do the Waste Watcher numbers add up? Many of the results are still being calculated, but Esposito shared a few stats with us.

    1363 pounds of food were recovered through Philabundance and sent to a local food pantry.

    3 trash trucks full of water cups were composted at the Fairmount Park Recycling Center.

    All those shredded sweatshirts and outer layers covering the section by Olney? The city partners with nonprofit Circle Thrift to recover the clothes. Circle Thrift sells the apparel and proceeds go back to the Circle of Hope church & related activities.

    What’s Next for Zero Waste & Waste Watchers

    Stay tuned! Esposito hints that there’s going to be a dramatic expansion over the next few months, with many opportunities to get involved. (He wouldn’t even spill to us…we tried!)


    Photos: Nic Esposito & Hannah Chatterjee

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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