Club scores big for environment - The Province


Players help kick off plan fronted by familiar 'football' face

BY MARC WEBER

Regulars visitors to the Vancouver Whitecaps' beer tents can soon feel a little better about their decision making skills -- their cups will be recyclable.

The soccer club has teamed up with Vancouver-based Evergreen Sports Programming to run a more eco-friendly operation at home games.

Many of the materials, like beer and coffee cups, will be switched out with recyclable or biodegradable ones to reduce waste. There will be organic food choices, and fans won't find a garbage can that isn't being man marked by a recycling bin and accompanying signage.

Most of the changes will be in place for Friday's home game.

"We've been thinking about how we could improve our performance in this area because it's the right thing to do," said Whitecaps director of marketing and communications Kim Jackman. "Part of being a community asset is how we support issues that are important to the people who support us, and this is a big issue."

The frontman for Evergreen is a familiar face to fans of that other kind of football.

Julian Radlein played fullback for the University of B.C. and then five years with the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats before retiring in 2008 to focus on his business.

Through a government grant, he ran a highly successful initiative to clean up Ticats home games, and business has grown to where Evergreen now works with five CFL teams.

"It's a win for everybody and it's not often you have those kinds of scenarios," said Radlein, whose company must work with all the stakeholders -- from stadium owners and operators to vendors and sponsors -- to ensure success.

The Whitecaps goals are to reduce solid waste by 25% over two years, to divert 95% of all solid waste away from the landfill in the same period, and to improve the quality of solid waste materials. Jackman said that starting on a smaller scale will ease the transition into BC Place come the MLS launch in 2011.

"We'll have some of those systems in place and it won't be such a huge undertaking," she said.

Whitecaps players will be featured prominently in signs around the stadium and their personality will shine through. Most of the scripts at the promotional shoot were quickly tossed aside.

Midfielder Justin Moose, for example, tells fans that: "Making new friends is hard -- really hard. But, thankfully, recycling is easy."

"There's the whole hug-a-tree, save-the-planet thing and it's very serious," said Radlein. "We're trying to make it humorous and engaging -- human. That's what people relate to."

mweber@theprovince.com

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