Better Winnipeg: Manitoba Marathon runs a super green race in recycling

WINNIPEG —; Race day means many different things to the 14,000 people running in the Manitoba Marathon.

Most people are focused on the race, while one group of volunteers are keep their eyes on all the waste.

Donna Dagg is the Green Team lead for the Manitoba Marathon. She helps coordinate a 35 person group of volunteers dedicated to keeping waste to an absolute minimum at the event.

“Our main role is to make sure we divert as much from the landfill as possible,” Dagg said.

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    In a matter of hours on marathon day, empty cups are scattered along the 26.2 mile course that winds through the city of Winnipeg.

    All those cups and other waste are gathered, bagged and moved to an arena, where all of it gets sorted by hand into groups of recycling, compost, cardboard and waste.

    “By separating them out we can really do a lot of waste diversion and make the marathon greener,” Dagg said.

    At the University of Manitoba stadium, where the races start and finish, any packaging from water and snacks are put into special pods. Each pod includes a recycling bin, compost bin and waste bin. Green Team volunteers monitor each pod to ensure things are ending up in the correct bin.

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    Signage with pictures of all the items from the event is placed above each bin as an extra guide.

    This year, 3,452 pounds was diverted from the landfill. That’s 85 per cent of everything collected from the marathon making it the highest percentage yet.

    The majority can be composted, tipping the scale at 2,158 pounds of material this year. Special cups with an inner lining made from corn account for most of it.

    After the marathon they’re all sent to a composting facility where they break down within 21 days.

    “Putting cups in the landfill would produce methane gas,” Dagg explained. “But if we divert them into a composting facility, we are making soil amendment and the nutrients can then be put back on the land.”

    Joseph Manacsa is the Green Team, tech team leader.  He said there’s added value to sorting all the garbage.

    “We want to make these a commodity, the recyclables and the compostables.”

    Dagg said the cost of the corn-lined cups is slightly more expensive but the sponsor, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries believes it’s worth the investment.

    So is the added effort and time put in by the Green Team.

    “It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s that extra work that will save the planet one day,” Manacsa said.

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