Aspen’s ZGreen program is serving as a leader for other host cities on the USA Pro Cycling Challenge circuit trying to green up their stages of the event.
The ZGreen program provides guidelines for special events to follow so that they produce the minimum amount of waste. All events that apply for a special-event permit with the city are required to meet ZGreen event standards. About a month ago, the city started receiving calls from other host cities looking for guidance, said city environmental health specialist Ashley Cantrell.
ZGreen standards include providing recycling and compost bins and making sure that event shwag is made out of reusable and recyclable items. All printed materials must be on post-consumer recycled paper and decorations must be reusable or recyclable.
The calls led Aspen’s environmental health department to reach out to all of the host cities to discuss how to make the event environmentally friendly.
“I am on a call almost weekly with all the other cities that are host cities,” Cantrell said. “And we are all working together to come up with creative ideas to address environmental issues related to the event — whether it’s [managing] waste, energy use or educating attendees.”
Last year the city successfully banned bottled water from the Aspen leg of the Pro Cycling Challenge, Cantrell said. In other cities on the tour, vendors had stations selling bottled water and there were complementary bottled waters in the VIP tents. The city asked race organizers if they would offer a green alternative to the water bottles, which they did, Cantrell said.
“The true power of what we did last year is that it got recognized,” Cantrell said.
This year, the city is doing many of the same things it did last year to maintain the race as a green event, but one addition is dealing with the new bike race sponsor New Belgium beer. The city plans to ask the brewery to come up with less environmentally impactful cup options for the beer, Cantrell said.
Although the Pro Cycling Challenge hasn’t released official green requirements for host cities yet, Nancy Lesley, the city’s special events director and head of the local organizing committee, said Aspen is probably already a step ahead of race organizers.
“We hold ourselves to our higher standards,” Lesley said. “So anything they come out with is probably already something we’re doing.”