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Recycle, Compost, Donate – Yes, We Do That!

The Western States Endurance Run gets a lot of questions throughout the year about how we manage the waste stream generated by the event. Here is a quick recap.

If you’ve been raised to recycle, it can be pretty disconcerting to throw everything into one bin, but that’s how we do it in Placer County! Placer County, where the WSER finish area is located, has a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), aka “the murf,” that accepts all trash, recycling and food waste in one big bin. Bin contents are tipped onto the facility floor, then loaded onto conveyor belts where items are separated by screens, magnets, air flow, weight detection, manual, and optical sorting systems to send paper, glass, cardboard, plastics, food waste, and garbage to the appropriate zones. The MRF then bales and sells all the recyclables. Only the true trash lands in the landfill.

The MRF even sorts your orange peels and leftover peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, so everything really does go into one big bin. Once sorted, organic materials, which include food scraps and wet paper, and can be up to 40% of the waste created, are sent to an anaerobic digester that creates mulch and compost, preventing much of the methane gas they would otherwise create from entering the atmosphere, which is, after all, the air we breathe.

Food Donation – Leftover edibles from our Start, Finish, and Aid Stations, are first offered to volunteers and then given to the Boys and Girls Club of Placer County and other local organizations.

Reusables – WSER maintains a warehouse near the race finish to store all the supplies that can be reused year over year. While these supplies are dedicated to the WS Training Weekend and the WS 100, they came in handy during the Mosquito Fire, when we were able to lend them out to assist with the fire crews and the local community.

Join Western States in reducing our waste stream.

WSER is partnering with Terracycle to collect all of your race nutrition wrappers on course. Look for the bin with the Terracycle logo when you enter each aid station. Empty your pockets and pack of any GU or other brand gel wrappers. You’ll feel lighter and maybe even finish faster! Remember to bring your own cup for use at aid stations, since WSER is a cupless race.

Streamline your race weekend supplies. First, pre-cycle everything you’re bringing with you. While you’re still at home, packing up all the goodies and supplies the runner and the crew might need, remove any extra plastic wrap, tags, paper, cardboard, those plastic six-pack rings, and dispose of them before the road trip begins. Bring refillable water bottles, and individual coffee flasks (hmmm, what a great crew gift), for the crew. The crew vehicle will stay cleaner, and the cooler your crew hauls to each aid location will be lighter and easier to organize.

Ask your crews to pack it in and pack it out. Crews may not dispose of any trash at an aid station. We have limited truck space and cannot accommodate over 300 crews’ garbage. Especially at Robinson Flat, Michigan Bluff, and Foresthill, the locals will be much more supportive of Western States weekend when we show that we care about their communities. Take everything with you to the Finish Area, and while you’re waiting to cheer in your runner, locate the dumpster and drop in your race trash.Plan ahead. You might just be a little tired post-race, so make a plan ahead of time for what you’ll do with your drop bags and leftovers. Instead of just throwing your unused drop bag items straight into the trash, plan to take your bags back home with you. Leave them in the garage or the laundry room for a few days, until you’ve caught up on your sleep and can bend over to pick them up without your quads yelling. Then you’ll be able to make good decisions on what you want to keep for the next race, and what really goes into the recycling or trash.

The Western States Endurance Run is proud to be an Environmental Partner of 1% For The Planet.