The San Diego Convention Center Corporation (SDCCC) has been selected by the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department to receive a 2008 Recycler of the Year Award. The award is part of the city’s 16th Annual Waste Reduction and Recycling Award Program honoring businesses that have implemented innovative waste reduction, recycling and recycled product purchasing programs. The Convention Center, along with other award winners, will be honored by the Mayor and Council President before City Council on April 22, 2008.
“We take our role as an industry leader seriously and pride ourselves on taking it a step further to include environmental programs that conserve the earth’s natural resources for future generations. It's the right thing to do,” said Convention Center general manager, Brad Gessner. Gessner is responsible for overseeing the Convention Center’s sustainability programs and serves as the chair of the building’s Green Team made up of employees from various departments.
The Convention Center has long been committed to supporting and encouraging sustainable practices, including hosting environmentally friendly meetings. Initial “green” programs began in 1990, many years ahead of the sustainability programs now in place in other major convention facilities. Efforts started with paper, aluminum can and glass bottle recycling and diverting wooden pallets and clean green waste to the city’s recycling center. Through the years, efforts have been expanded, and the Convention Center adopted a policy of “recycle, reduce and reuse.” Today the building recycles everything from used batteries to used cooking oil, the latter of which is converted into bio-diesel fuel. In 2007 alone, 24% of our total waste was diverted or 520 tons.
In June 2007, under the leadership of Executive Chef Jeff Leidy, the Convention Center’s food and beverage department began a successful composting program, which diverted an estimated 260 tons of food waste. Ultimately, the goal is to divert all food scraps, eliminating the use of garbage disposals. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional offices in San Francisco, the Convention Center is one of the most prolific food composters on the West Coast.
The food and beverage department also has a strong environmental purchasing program. Leidy ensures that all meats are purchased from local and regional farms that raise livestock humanely and without antibiotics or growth hormones. This includes almost exclusively buying locally grown, organic produce. Additionally, disposable cutlery, cups and plates purchased are biodegradable, made from corn- and sugar-based products. These practices diminish the negative environmental impact of transporting foods and reduce the amount of waste put into local landfills.
Given the large volume of events and people hosted in the building annually, an on-going food donations program diverts leftover food to local charities. Instead of throwing away unused food from banquets and other meals prepared on site, it is donated to non-profit meal programs. In 2007, over 90,000 pounds of food was donated to the San Diego Rescue Mission alone.
The San Diego Convention Center Corporation is a public benefit corporation created by the City of San Diego. The Corporation is exclusively responsible for marketing, managing and operating the Convention Center. In its 19-year history, the Center has generated nearly $15.2 billion in economic impact, over $309.8 million in tax revenues and continues to serve as San Diego’s premier gathering place.