You may not know what they’re called, but chances are if you’ve been to a large sporting event in recent years, you’ll know what they sound like.
Thundersticks have become a fixture at many sporting events in the past few years, and the little inflatable tubes that make a spectacular racket when clapped together en masse have become a particular fixture of the Big Bash cricket over the past two summers.
But it almost wasn’t so – at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) at least. When the Big Bash league first raised the idea of handing out thundersticks to spectators with MCG management, the reception was not immediately positive.
“I denied the request originally as we didn’t know if it was a recyclable product,” says Vince Macolino who is the Venue Presentation Coordinator for the MCG’s managing body, the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC).
Such is the MCG’s commitment to waste reduction, working with Terracycle they sent the thundersticks in question over to the USA to be analysed, and only approved their use once it was determined that they could be recycled.
This is the kind of thinking that has seen the MCG recycle more than 77 per cent of the 1691 tonnes of waste it produced in 2016.
When Macolino joined the MCG’s team at the end of 2013, he conducted a thorough review of the venue’s waste management procedures.
While the venue was doing a reasonable job at the time, with multiple recycling streams in place, capturing just over 60 per cent of the waste generated on site, Macolino set to work with external consultant David Raiko and KS Environmental to find ways to improve. “We came up with a training and education program that was targeted at our contractors and caterers – the main people who produce and needed to be aware of the waste management producers,” Macolino says. “We identified the waste streams at the MCG, what they looked like, where they were located, and everyone who attended those sessions was then responsible for on-training their teams.”
Macolino implemented monthly reporting procedures to track how they were performing and to help identify any problem areas.
“For example, if we’ve sent more waste to landfill, investigate why that’s happened,” he says. “We make each department and contractor accountable for their own recycling – if you’re doing the wrong we’ll follow up on it.”
Macolino’s team developed a waste hierarchy that prioritises avoidance, reuse and recycling of waste that is now regularly communicated to all departments within the venue.
“People can also phone me if they’re unsure,” he says. “Over the past year, I’ll get phone calls from staff and contractors asking about how to dispose of a waste properly, because people are aware that we’re doing something about it.”
One of the MCC’s key partners in this task is ISS.
“ISS are on the ground day-to-day – they’re one of the big companies responsible for recycling at the MCG,” Macolino says. “They’re invested in our recycling rates as well and trying to get the best for MCC.”
Macolino says that one of the biggest challenges is dealing with what people bring into the MCG and leave behind on event days, such as bags, food packaging and drink bottles that might not be recyclable.
To read more, see page 40 of Issue 10.