Game Day Garbage: Reducing Food and Plastic Waste

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All around the world, sports fans flock to stadiums, arenas and ballparks to cheer for their favorite teams. With many of these fans consuming food and drinks during events, an enormous amount of waste is generated by the sports industry each year. In the U.S. alone, major league baseball fans create more than 1,000 tons of waste every season—and until recently, all but a tiny percentage has made its way into landfills.

That is changing, thanks to Cargill’s bioplastics joint venture NatureWorks, the world’s largest producer of polylactic acid polymer, called Ingeo™️ PLA. The company is enabling more sports waste to be diverted away from landfills.

NatureWorks grew out of a Cargill research and development project in the 1990s. The team came up with a low-carbon-footprint resin, made by fermenting sugar into lactic acid and forming it into hard pellets, which are then sold to manufacturers. The pellets can be used in a variety of products normally made from plastics or fibers, including diapers, coffee capsules, 3D printing filament, cell phone cases, and foodservice packaging. Marketed under the brand name Ingeo™️, some of these products can be designed to be 100% compostable.

At Target Field, home to the Minnesota Twins baseball team, located in Minneapolis just 13 miles from Cargill headquarters, the team has partnered with Eco-Products, a foodservice manufacturer, to provide cups, plates, trays, and eating utensils made from Ingeo materials—all of which can make it easier to collect food waste to be sent to compost.

Bottles and cans have long been recycled at the ballpark, but by composting Ingeo-based products more commonly made from oil-based plastics, the Twins have increased the amount of waste diverted from landfills to 90 percent.

All around the world, more teams are taking on the challenge of increasing the sustainability of their game-day operations. Some venues are converting waste into compost, used as mulch on fields and green spaces.

“Over the past several years, a number of sports teams with recycling and composting rates around 10 percent have dramatically increased their rates to 80 percent or more,” said Scott Jenkins, chairman of the Green Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping enhance the environmental performance of sports teams, venues and leagues.

As stadiums expand their use of Ingeo-based goods to reduce landfill waste, NatureWorks is looking to help other industries, like the restaurant sector, minimize their carbon footprints, increase organics diversion and to help make all food service ware more environmentally sustainable.

That’s a goal everyone can cheer for.

View the story here.

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Running with Ralphie’s Green Stampede Workshop May 2

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Rocky Mountain Green and the Green Schools Conference will host a workshop, Running with Ralphie’s Green Stampede, on campus about CU Boulder’s LEED platinum-certified net-zero energy Indoor Practice Facility and Training Center.

In 2005 the University of Colorado added a requirement to the campus building code that all new university buildings must be LEED certified. The Athletics department’s newest development, completed in February 2016, was no exception, reaching LEED platinum certification.

The complex is the 19th building on campus to earn LEED certification. It consists of two new builds and one retrofit—the Champions Center, Indoor Practice Facility and Dal Ward Athletics Center.

CU Athletics demonstrates their commitment to sustainability via their green buildings and operations. These ways of doing  business are then promoted to fans through a program called Ralphie’s Green Stampede, which asks that fans follow the Buffs’ lead by adopting sustainable behaviors at home, work and play.

The tour will start around 2 p.m. at the statue at the Champion Center main entrance and will go until 5 p.m. Those meeting on campus will still need to register here. Cost is $100, though students and young professionals can use code “WKPEP18” to attend the tour at a discounted rate of $35.

For those in the Denver area, transportation will be provided to and from the workshop destination, picking up and dropping off at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center.

Read more here.

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An Interview with Lew Blaustein About His Push for the ‘Greening’ of the Sports World

Chester Energy and Policy
by Matt Chester

This is a re-post of Matt Chester’s interview with Lew Blaustein of The Green Sports Blog.

The Green Sports Blog is one of the premiere websites covering the intersection of sports with the worlds of energy, the environment, and climate change. Publishing at least once or twice a week, this blog spreads awareness of the eco-athletes in the big leagues, provides commentary and analysis of the latest green initiatives in sports, and is a one-stop shop for this growing field of study. I had the opportunity to speak with Lew Blaustein, the writer behind the Green Sports Blog, and ask him some pressing questions I had as both an energy nut and a sports fanatic. And if after reading my interview with Mr. Blaustein you feel compelled to learn more, I highly recommend you head to the Green Sports Blog and sign up to receive email alerts when new articles are published and follow him on Twitter as well.

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My conversation with Lew Blaustein:

Chester Energy and Policy: First off, Lew, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak with me about the work you’re doing at the intersection of energy and sports, a topic that I think doesn’t get enough attention. I have a couple of questions I’d love to ask to get some more insight into your work and the difference you’re hoping to make in the sports industry as it relates to energy.

Lew Blaustein: Sure, fire away!

Chester: To start with the basics, why sports? What drew you to investigate and highlight the intersection of sports with green issues?

Blaustein: Well I would say that the question should really be the other way around. I always wanted to work in sports ever since I was about seven years old, but I knew I was a crummy athlete, so I first tried sportscasting, which was a very tough way to make a living. Then I tried sports business– ad sales, business development, promotions, marketing, communications, and I did that for over 15 years.

Through all of this I always considered myself a ‘lowercase e’ environmentalist, but my passion for it did not rise to the level of my sports passion until 9/11 occurred. I was always living and working in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area, and when 9/11 happened I was working for Sports Illustrated for Kids. In the wake of the attacks, though, I felt I had to do something, but what was that something? I really didn’t know, but then about three or four months after that Thomas L. Friedman, an author and columnist with the New York Times, wrote a column that said green is the new red, white, and blue. The idea was that the United States at that time comprised about 4% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s energy use, as this was before the fracking boom, domestic production boom, and the rise of India and China to any large degree (now we’re closer to 4% of population and about 20% of energy use). So, Friedman made the point that our insanely profligate energy use was fueling the terrorism that we were fighting. That really resonated with me. I thought it was this bipartisan type issue that everyone would want to reduce our country’s energy demand.

I was inspired– I went out and bought a hybrid car (eventually I just got rid of my car, since you can do that in New York City), I changed all my light bulbs, I almost became vegetarian, all these sorts of things. As time went on, I got schooled on climate change, and so then it made even more sense. So, I went off in 2005 and left Sports Illustrated for Kids and became a communications/business development/marketing consultant with a sustainability focus.

Then a few years later, around 2008 or 2009, I started thinking what if there was an intersection of green and sports and how cool that would be, given my duel passions. In short order, I found out about the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) and poked around some more and in 2013 I decided to start this blog because no one else was doing anything like it. I thought this would help me get to know all the people in that world (small as it was and still is) and that would help me build my consulting business, which has happened to a degree. Then it turns out that people like the blog and so that’s how that all came to be.

Read the full interview here.

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