US Open Celebrates 14Th Anniversary Of Sustainability Program

In front of Arthur Ashe Stadium, US Open (photo: Michael Dickens)

NEW YORK, August 28, 2021 (USTA Press Release)

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) celebrates the 14th year of its US Open sustainability initiative, continuing the tournament’s decade-plus commitment to reducing the environmental impact of the US Open and helping to create a more sustainable future for our planet.

In 2019, the US Open became one of the first major North American organizations to sign the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework, joining a group of international sports organizations that have committed to drive climate awareness and action. As part of the US Open’s continued commitment to climate-intelligent humanitarian initiatives, one new 2021 component is the collaboration with reforestation non-profit One Tree Planted. As part of the partnership, the USTA will make a donation to ensure a tree is planted for every player that will be competing in the US Open. The trees will be planted in California to help replenish U.S. National Forests that have been impacted by recent forest fires, particularly the devastating Creek Fire of 2020. Fans will also be encouraged to donate through in-stadium messaging and a dedicated website.

Additionally, returning in 2021 is a carbon offset program that provides improved cookstoves in Africa. The US Open will offset fan travel for Finals Weekend as well as player travel to compete in the event and employee travel to work the event. This equates to approximately 10 million miles traveled by airplane, car or subway. This year, the USTA will support the Darfur Cookstove Project in the Sudan.  It is the first registered carbon credit project in the Sudan and the first to be developed in a conflict zone. Each improved cookstove installed in a household in Darfur saves 4.5 tCO2e which is equivalent to one passenger flying three times between London and New York.  These cookstoves replace traditional cooking methods which require burning wood inside the home and results in the release of large amounts of particulates, carbon monoxide and other pollutants risking the health of the individuals living inside.  The World Health Organization estimates that smoke inhalation from the traditional wood burning stoves is equal to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.  Families with these improved cookstoves enjoy better indoor air quality helping to improve their own health while using less wood and helping to reduce deforestation in that area.  Through this initiative, the USTA is helping to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals established as a global call to action to address poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.

US Open sponsors and partners are also making significant contributions to sustainability at the US Open. For example, the evian® natural spring water bottles sold and distributed throughout the US Open are made of between 25-50% recycled plastic* and they are on a mission to make all its bottles from 100% recycled plastic* by 2025. This helps the US Open recycle nearly seven tons of plastic during the event and divert 97% of waste from landfill. (*excluding cap and label)

In addition, Mercedes-Benz shows off the first of its all-electric Mercedes-EQ vehicle lineup, as well as innovations — like an energy-regenerating pathway — that demonstrate forward-thinking steps towards a more sustainable future. Beyond a celebration of tennis, the Mercedes-Benz Brand Center and East Gate Showroom spaces spotlight themes of electrification and the alternative sources of power that will accelerate the brand’s vision for the coming years.

The 2021 US Open ball person uniforms from Ralph Lauren will be made from yarn derived from recycled plastic bottles.  The fabric will also have functional performance features like stretch and moisture-wicking properties that are constructed for active play.   In addition, Wilson racquet stringers at the US Open will no longer be using plastic bags to wrap the 5,300-plus racquets strung during the three weeks of the event. And working with Wilson, the US Open will be recycling all of the used racquet string from the event; that’s more than 35 miles of string.

Also new in 2021 is Wilson’s collaboration with Recycleballs, US Open court surface Laykold, and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to resurface and refurbish a tennis court in Queens.  The community tennis court at Ella Fitzgerald Playground in Kissena Corridor Park in Fresh Meadows was resurfaced using the tournament balls from the 2020 US Open tournament donated by the USTA.  Remaining balls from the 2020 US Open are used for community programs held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center throughout the year.  Balls from the 2021 US Open will be donated again in support of this collaboration.

The US Open is proud to have earned LEED Silver certification for Louis Armstrong Stadium, which premiered at the 2018 US Open. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green-building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. A number of sustainable design elements were incorporated into Louis Armstrong Stadium, including fixtures that use 40% less water than standard buildings, landscape that is designed to use 55% less water than traditional landscaping and low-emitting paints and finishes. In addition, during construction, 95% of waste was recycled. This is the third LEED certified structure at the home of the US Open, the others being the Grandstand Stadium and VIP/Transportation Building.

Since 2008, working with environmental consultant eco evolutions llc, the US Open has reduced its greenhouse emissions by 37,000 metric tons through waste diversion, recycled paper use, carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates. More than 4,900 tons of waste generated during the US Open has been diverted from landfills, saving over 5,400 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of 1,174 passenger cars being driven for a year. Through composting leftover organic matter, nearly 700 tons of food waste has been converted into nutrient-rich compost for gardens and farms, along with more than 130 tons of food being donated to local communities.  Constellation, the US Open’s energy supplier, is donating Green-e Energy certified Renewable Energy Certificates to match the electricity consumed during the 2021 US Open.

Additional components of the US Open sustainability initiative include:

  • Recycling and Composting
    • At the conclusion of the 2021 US Open, the USTA will be donating the metal lids from the tennis ball cans used during the event to the Ronald McDonald House in Valhalla, N.Y.  These metal lids will be recycled to benefit the Ronald McDonald House’s Pull Tab Collection Program for that home.
    • The USTA collects the tennis balls used during the matches and players’ practices to reuse in USTA tennis programs and to donate to various community and youth organizations throughout the United States.  Some of the balls from the 2021 US Open will be donated as a part of Wilson’s initiative with Recycleballs and Laykold.
    • 12,000 gallons of food grease from US Open kitchens will be converted into biodiesel fuel.
    • More than 70 tons of food waste from the US Open kitchens will be collected to be turned into compost for landscape and farming uses.
  • Construction and Grounds
    • The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is home to three LEED certified structures including: Louis Armstrong Stadium (LEED Silver); Grandstand Stadium; and the Transportation Building.
    • Louis Armstrong Stadium:
      • Louis Armstrong Stadium uses 40% less water than is used in standard buildings.
      • Landscaping around Louis Armstrong Stadium is designed to use 55% less water than traditional landscaping.
      • During construction of Louis Armstrong Stadium, 95% of the waste was recycled.
      • Louis Armstrong Stadium is designed to use nearly 30% less energy than is used in standard buildings.
      • More than 10% of the materials used in Louis Armstrong Stadium’s construction were made from recycled materials.
      • Louis Armstrong Stadium is located close to public transportation, encouraging fans to take mass transit and help reduce the carbon footprint.
      • Low-emitting paints and finishes were used in Louis Armstrong Stadium’s construction to reduce the emission of pollutants.
      • Waste generated in Louis Armstrong Stadium is recycled and composted to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.
    • Grandstand Stadium:
      • During the Grandstand’s construction, more than 80% of waste was recycled.
      • Primarily due to LED lights, the Grandstand uses 15% less energy than is used in standard buildings.
      • The Grandstand makes use of a rainwater treatment system to remove contaminants before the rainwater is discharged into the environment.
      • The Grandstand uses 40% less water than is used in standard buildings.
      • The Grandstand’s white roof reflects heat to keep the stadium cooler.
      • More than 10% of the materials used in the Grandstand’s construction were made from recycled materials.
      • Low-emitting paints and finishes were used in the Grandstand’s construction to reduce the emission of pollutants.
    • Foam glass, made from 1.3 million recycled glass bottles was used under the foundation of the new US Open broadcast building.
    • Refill water stations are located throughout the site to encourage re-use of water bottles.
    • LED court lights have been installed and will save a total of 90,000 kWh; 50% more efficient than regular stadium lighting.
    • Vendors are provided with a US Open Green Cleaning Policy specifying preferred cleaning products to be used during the US Open.
  • Food Service
    • Paper or compostable straws will replace plastic straws across the site.
    • The majority of the service ware throughout the site is compostable, comprised of bio-based materials.
    • US Open food concessionaire, Levy Restaurants, is locally sourcing approximately 20% of its produce and ingredients for the food offered on site.  In addition, Levy Restaurants offers 63% naturally-raised protein.
    • The US Open expects to donate almost 15 tons of food to the local community.
  • Paper Products
    • The 2.4 million napkins in the general concession area are comprised of 100% recycled material.
    • The US Open Daily is printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and printed on machines with dual-printing capabilities.
    • US Open tickets are exclusively electronic.
    • All US Open digital event cards are provided electronically in place of the over 48,000 plastic versions purchased in the past.
  • Transportation
    • The USTA will continue to welcome more than 50% of its fans via mass transit or through rideshare.
    • The US Open will offset the estimated 3.5 million miles players travel to compete at the US Open; the 3.8 million miles employees travel to work the event; and the 2.7 million miles traveled by fans to attend Finals Weekend.
  • Fan Awareness
    • 2021 US Open Sustainability Initiatives are featured in the official 2021 US Open Program.
    • US Open Sustainability Program facts will be highlighted in-stadium.
    • Environmental facts related to the construction of Louis Armstrong Stadium and Grandstand are displayed throughout those areas.
  • US Open Merchandise
    • The US Open Collection will feature for sale a reusable tote made from 80% post-consumer waste.