After handing out medals at the finish line, the Detroit Free Press Marathon has earned its own award. The 2023 marathon achieved zero-waste status by diverting the majority of race material from the landfill. That means organizers diverted 90% or more of waste produced by the event. It’s the largest event in Detroit to accomplish zero waste, according to Schupan Sustainability, which coordinated waste management for the Detroit Free Press Marathon and some of the city’s staple festivals, including Movement and the Detroit Jazz Festival.

“It’s important for us as a major event in Detroit to focus on minimizing the impact that we have on the city and the residents of Detroit,” said Aaron Velthoven, vice president and race director of the Detroit Free Press Marathon. “We’ve tried really hard to minimize the impact and to bring a net positive to the community in all aspects of our race weekend. The mitigation of the waste that’s produced from our events, and other events of our size, is something that we’ve focused on over the last couple of years to minimize as much as possible, because we truly believe that once we’re done with race weekend, we want to leave Detroit — if not the same — much better than when we were there racing the streets.”

During the race, 39,926 pounds of waste were produced during the U.S. portion of the event. Of that, 36,026 pounds were donated, recycled, or composted for a 90.23% waste diversion rate — just above the industry standard of 90%, according to data collected by Schupan Sustainability. Materials that can be reused — for example, tables, chairs, fencing — were not included in waste reduction rates as these are reusable items.

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Author: Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press
Image: Detroit Free Press