Getting down! Pterodactyl Tri achieves 94% Diversion

When the T-rex dances, you know there’s something to celebrate! Another successful sprint triathlon on a gorgeous evening, and another great Zero Waste result.

Sustainability Report: Pterodactyl Triathlon 2017
Date: July 19, 2017
Event company: RF Events, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Island Lake Park, Brighton MI
# Attendees: 470 triathletes
Zero Waste Team volunteers: 3

Race Overview

The Pterodactyl is the second of a set of three summer triathlons at Island Lake Park. The others in the series are the Triceratops (June) and the T-Rex (August). All are sprint triathlons – half mile swim, 12.4 mile bike, 5K run – and follow the same course.

Pterodactyl Tri - Athlete with Bike

This is an evening event, starting at 6:00 p.m. and wrapped up by 9:00.

Zero Waste Plan

As usual, we set up one tent next to the registration area and three tents in the post-race area, and put bins for recycling, wrappers, and trash near Bike Out and Run Out. We covered the park’s waste cans near their dumpsters. The sorting station was set up next to the dumpsters.

Pterodactyl Tri - Manning a Tent.jpg

Two run aid stations offer water and Gatorade, and due to the warm evening, wet cloths were handed out at the second aid station. The cloths are reusable; notes about this were placed on the registration table.

Post-race food included pita sandwiches and cookies. Plastic from medal wrappings, ice bags, etc. was captured separately. Gu and Clif bar wrappers were retrieved from trash when time permitted.

The park takes our collected recycling. Happy Planet Running took the plastic bags/wrap, Gu packets for TerraCycle, and the compost for dropoff at a local commercial composting farm.


Another excellent result! Breakdown by waste stream:

  • Compostables: 20.4 lbs. (12.5 %)
  • Recyclables: 133.3 lbs. (81.8 %)
  • Landfill: 9.3 lbs. (5.7 %)

We also collected the cotton cloths (55 lbs. wet, 15 lbs. dry) for reuse.

What Went Right

The process for the triathlons is well established, and there were no major surprises. Collecting the wet cloths, and drying them afterward, was less of an effort than with Liberty Festival, due to fewer athletes.

Opportunities for Improvement

Despite the bins in the transition area, the athletes left quite a bit of trash on the ground. Some small containers between the bike racks may help, as would more education of the participants.

Despite covering the part’s trash cans, people continued to try and throw stuff away in them. Their location makes them convenient. Zero Waste Washtenaw uses “Trash Can Closed” signs, an idea worth trying.

Pterodactyl Tri - Covered Trash Cans

The trash always contains some discarded swim caps, which are handed out to all athletes. They are used to color-code the waves. We should investigate ways to donate discarded caps, or reuse them.

Some non-recyclable shop towels from last year were mixed in with the cotton wet cloths and had to be thrown away. There’s no reason to keep the shop towels.

What We’ll Do Differently Next Time

Additional waste collection in the transition area, and better “Closed” signage in the park’s trash can area.

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