MORRISON, Colo. — Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a venue unlike any other, not only for the scenery and the shows, but also the work crews do behind the scenes to be as sustainable as possible.
Thousands of people show up for the roughly 175 shows that happen at the iconic venue every year, and with all of those visitors comes a lot of trash — beer cans, cardboard boxes, food and more. Red Rocks’ mission is to try to be as sustainable as possible while they deal with it all.
“We have a sustainability program. We have a lot of things to try to enhance our sustainability and our footprint on the Earth as we do all the events that we have up here,” said Tad Bowman, the venue director at Red Rocks.
Employees at the amphitheatre go around every night and pick up every piece of trash. From there, the trash is sorted for recycling and composting.
“A lot of trash or recyclables or, yes, a lot of waste material,” Bowman said.
The sorting facility is just a stone’s throw away from where thousands of people are listening to their favorite artist. Most have no idea what’s happening nearby around the clock.
“I did not know that until I saw these guys doing it because we were walking back,” said Patty Riley, a concert-goer who stumbled upon the sustainability operations.
The goal of the 15-year program is to divert 80 to 85% of all the trash gathered away from a landfill.
“We're reducing the footprint and the amount of materials that go to the landfill that normally, without this program, would all end up in a landfill,” Bowman said.
Beyond the trash collection, the venue also uses LED lighting wherever possible and low-flow toilets and urinals to help with water conservation. Red Rocks has also gotten rid of some packaging for food and drinks and made the rest of it recyclable or compostable.
All of it is happening behind the scenes to make sure the popular spot is ready for whatever the next night might bring.