The Georgia World Congress Center is the world’s largest LEED Gold certified convention center, servicing over one million visitors every year. The venue consists of 3 conference halls that are divided into twelve exhibit halls, for a total of 1,353,900 square feet of show space. Conference hosts and exhibitors bring in large amounts of bulk waste that are broken down and placed into either one of the 12 open top dumpsters or 10 trash compactors at GWCC. Waste Management (WM) is contracted to haul the trash and single-stream recycling bins. Currently, a $400/haul service charge is passed to conference hosts for landfill hauls, while recycling is free. The process is currently cost negative, with charges to conference hosts capturing only 93% of waste costs. GWCC would like to increase waste diversion away from the landfill while seeing its waste operations become cost neutral.
In FY 2019, 13% of bulk waste was diverted from the landfill, despite the fact that 66% of material brought into conference centers is recyclable. The goal of the project is to increase GWCC’s waste diversion rate to 40% while making the waste disposal system cost-neutral or profitable. GWCC’s waste diversion rate is currently low compared to conference centers of similar size, and the available data for the waste disposal system, specifically the quantity of hauls, waste tonnage, and breakdown of waste by material is often incomplete or inaccurate. The system is complex in terms of the number of parties with conflicting interests and the ability of the client to influence these parties. As a result, compliance to existing recycling processes is often minimal. In order to divert more waste, a restructured system is needed to provide GWCC with the leverage to regulate and enforce new processes. Additionally, any changes to pricing, policy, or system structure must be backed up with thorough data analysis to avoid pushback from GWCC’s clients.
The team designed standardized operating procedures by material based on team-conducted experiments. These experiments included one heavy and one light material to obtain building blocks for process times that were extrapolated to evaluate processes for other materials. For targeted materials, we determined the best way to sort based on experiment results and final material recycler. Using simulation, we calculated added process time considering conference variation and system constraints. Then, we compared the new process disposal and labor costs to the old process costs to evaluate savings per unit of material. To provide conferences an estimate of the number of waste hauls that they will have, we developed a regression model and used optimization to find the confidence level that minimized prediction intervals while having at least 70% of real data in the intervals. The team also developed a new haul pricing model that incentivizes recycling over trash hauls while also increasing GWCC’s revenue. To ensure that the above methodologies are easily used by GWCC, an interactive web application will be provided to the client.
The main project deliverable is an interactive web application that brings together all project solutions. The application provides a reference for diversion procedures for different material types, as well as justification to conference hosts that many processes will reduce waste disposal costs. The application also allows GWCC to track conference host waste diversion compliance and reward well-performing conference hosts. One page of the application will help GWCC calculate penalty fees to charge conferences that do not comply with processes.
By inputting various conference attributes, users of the app can see predictions for conference waste hauls so they can help conference hosts create their budgets. Users can also calculate the appropriate waste haul prices to charge conference hosts based on their clean recycling rates. The application is designed to be dynamic, so the waste prediction regression model is updatable with new data, and users can modify the types of conferences that the model takes in.
This deliverable will make it easier for GWCC to keep track of conference data while they implement recommended policies that will increase waste diversion and service recovery rate.
Value and Impact
The standardized processes are projected to help GWCC reach 45% waste diversion with a 120% service recovery rate and an expected profit of $97,673 for its waste disposal system. This 45% waste diversion corresponds with a decrease of 3054 tons of CO2 equivalents and an estimated $472,859 impact on the local recycling industry.