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Twin Cities Charities Divert Tons of Waste From Super Bowl

Star Tribune
Twin Cities nonprofits have kept the Super Bowl leftovers from landfills. 

 

he Salvation Army is acting as a distribution hub for Super Bowl LII leftovers. Above, marketing director Michelle Wong with some of the donated items and food.

The Salvation Army is acting as a distribution hub for Super Bowl LII leftovers. Above, marketing director Michelle Wong with some of the donated items and food. Photo Source: Star Tribune

What could have become a giant dump of Super Bowl leftovers from U.S. Bank Stadium, the Convention Center and Nicollet Mall is instead being reused and repurposed by more than 20 local charities.

The Salvation Army has collected more than 1 million square feet of mesh fencing, banners and carpeting used before and during the Super Bowl and is distributing the materials to other local charities.

Then there’s the miscellaneous — the Kitten Bowl set, pallets of hand warmers, food and beverages, and supplies such as desks, pens, pencils and Post-it notes for more than 100 offices in the temporary headquarters.

“No one wants to take those supplies back with them, so we donate them to charities to use in classrooms,” said Jack Groh, director of the NFL Environmental Program, which facilitates the material recovery project. “It’s more than 2,000 pounds of supplies.”

More than 16 months ago, the National Football League’s Environmental Program began building a network of charities to use Super Bowl leftovers instead of sending them to the landfill.

“We’re the first pro sports league to do this,” Groh said. ”The initiative started 25 years ago and now we do it at major sports events like the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl and the draft.”

The Twin Cities Salvation Army took the lead by acting as a distribution hub for nearly all the items. It used most of its fleet of 18 donation trucks to collect the materials from four major sites and transported it to its warehouse and store at 900 N. 4th St. in Minneapolis. From there, the other 21 charities could pick up what was useful for them.

“It’s an enormous amount of stuff,” said Tom Canfield, administrator of operations for Twin Cities Salvation Army.

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Member Spotlight: University of Texas at Austin

For this month’s Membership Spotlight, we’re going to take a closer look at one of our most accomplished and innovative members—The University of Texas at Austin (Longhorns).  The Longhorns have not only led the way in advancing the sports greening movement in the collegiate sector but have shed light on some new ways to engage stakeholders, students, and sports not traditionally mentioned in the greater sport and sustainability landscape.

2017 was a great year for the Longhorns as they made huge strides in their zero waste program, leading the charge in sustainability around baseball and softball. After successfully achieving zero waste during a “Zero Waste Weekend” series at both sports since 2014, the Longhorns successfully achieved an entire zero waste baseball season at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Lauren Lichterman, Operations and Sustainability Coordinator for Texas Athletics, explained how baseball and softball were a natural fit for sustainability programming and “a great start for best practice development.”

Lauren Lichterman & Bevo the Longhorn

Lauren Lichterman & Hook ‘Em the Longhorn

“Our baseball stadium has a capacity of 7,000 which is comparatively more manageable from a waste standpoint than our 102,000-person football facility,” Lichterman says. “We have the same concessionaire at both facilities and they have done a fantastic job over the years of switching their products to adhere to our zero waste standards. Being able to control the waste stream in this way is crucial to being able to achieve zero waste at any of our facilities.”

Of course, these successes don’t happen overnight, and while programs should strive for zero-waste seasons, patience is important.  It took three years to achieve a zero-waste baseball season according to Lichterman. “We spent three years tweaking the system not only from season-to-season, but also from game-to-game. We worked with all stakeholders from fans to staff to sponsors to operational partners to take advantage of every opportunity to improve.” Creating success stories in sports like baseball and softball can build a proof of concept to legitimize your work, recruit sponsors, and have a functional model for approaching bigger sports like football.

They continued their success in zero waste at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium during the 2017 football season.  Before the football season began, the school’s sustainability team set out a few goals in their quest achieve zero waste:

  • Figure out a system to sort waste on-site during the game
  • Increase the number of volunteers to help educate fans and sort the waste
  • Create a food recovery program to donate unused food from gameday
  • Develop a communications plan to share our sustainability story

While these weren’t their only goals, putting forth a strategic plan is a wonderful way to organize your stakeholder network around actionable objectives that can help track, measure, and guide your future sustainability efforts.

Their efforts were a smashing success, and they achieved many of their initial objectives, including:

  • Recruiting almost 700 people to donate 2,700 volunteer hours over the course of the season
  • Donating over 3,000 meals to Central Texas families in need through their food recovery program
  • Decreasing landfill waste by over 200,000 pounds
  • Developing a unique social media presence through @TxSportsSustain (twitter) and @bleedorangelivegreen (Instagram).

The Longhorns also increased their overall diversion to about 50%, which is no small feat for a stadium holding over 100,000 fans on any given gameday. They plan to continue their ambitious path towards zero was by targeting a 70% diversion rate next season.

Sustainability Squad at The University of Texas at Austin

Sustainability Squad at The University of Texas at Austin

2018 is sure to be another exciting year for the Longhorns, with ample plans to further expand their sport and sustainability success. Lichterman has taken us behind the curtain about what we may expect in the future, including “creating water and energy conservation programs which aim to close the loop in some of their current operations.”

We’re all thrilled to see these projects develop and support the Longhorns in their pursuit of Zero Waste and achieving other sustainability objectives.

To learn more about their efforts and how to get involved visit:

Videoboard image at a University of Texas at Austin football game during the 2017 season.

Videoboard image at a University of Texas at Austin football game during the 2017 season.

Indiana Pacers Celebrate “Sustainability Week” with Republic Services & Keep Indianapolis Beautiful

Indiana Pacers 

Indy Do Day

Indiana Pacers “Sustainability Week”. Photo Credit: Frank McGrath/Indiana Pacers.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Pacers, Republic Services and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB) have teamed up for Sustainability Week!

To encourage all to be more environmentally conscious, the Pacers and Republic Services want to set an example as they continue to work to improve the environmental performance of the Pacers organization as well as help spread the message to fans. Sustainability addresses environmental conservation policies within the team’s offices and educates fans on ways they can lead a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

In addition, through NBA Green, the NBA has partnered with the Green Sports Alliance to generate awareness and funds for protecting the environment. The NBA is taking steps to be more environmentally friendly and will continue to explore ways of reducing its impact on the environment through community outreach programs, generating awareness among fans and greening its operations.

During Pacers Sustainability Week (March 18-25), the Pacers, Republic Services and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful will take part in sustainability efforts throughout Central Indiana that include the Threes for Trees promotion, Sustainability Night and Day of Service, all designed to support environmental organizations and encourage fans to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Threes for Trees Promotion
During Pacers Sustainability Week, the Pacers have committed to planting one tree for every three-pointer made during all homes games throughout the week (March 19, 23 and 25).

The trees will be planted throughout Indianapolis with the help of KIB and Pacers Sports & Entertainment staff. Together, the organizations will enrich areas where people live and work, helping to sustain the environment and provide a blue planet for generations to come. Fans can check out the Threes for Trees Tree “counter” at the Pacers game and follow the action online with #3sforTrees.and follow the action online with #3sforTrees.

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SPORTS MEMBERS INCLUDE...
403
TOTAL SPORTS MEMBERS
193
TEAMS
194
VENUES
16
LEAGUES