Fans at the Super Bowl will generate an estimated 40 tons of waste that event organizers say they hope will not touch down in any landfills.
The National Football League is attacking the solid waste stream at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, where the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles will face off Feb. 4. The league partnered with PepsiCo and food services provider Aramark to organize the first-ever “zero waste” Super Bowl event, in which materials will be diverted to recycling and composting facilities.
The NFL anticipates that the program will serve as a playbook for future sporting events beyond football, but replicating the program may prove difficult at stadiums that aren’t located near recycling and composting plants.
Programs that debut at the event often cause a ripple effect, with other sports facilities and leagues adopting them once they see how to adapt sustainable plans to the large-scale stadium environment. according to Jack Groh, director of the NFL’s environment program.
“The Super Bowl is the crown jewel of sporting events in America,” Groh told Bloomberg Environment.
“Zero Waste” Initiative
The partnership, called Rush2Recycle, aims to divert 90 percent of waste to recycling and composting. The remaining waste will be converted into energy and be distributed into the local electric grid, Roberta Barbieri, PepsiCo’s vice president of global water and environmental solutions, told Bloomberg Environment.
Several hundred bins installed around the stadium, which will remain after the event, have three openings designated for compost, trash, and recyclable materials. But, Barbieri said, the success of the program relies heavily on fans using the correct bins.
The bins will have standardized labels, and volunteers will help answer any questions about where materials should go, she said. Stadium operations will also try to sort materials that don’t make it to the right container, to ensure that no waste will end up in landfills.
And on the front end, Aramark converted over 70 products, including draft beer cups, nacho trays, straws, and paper boats, to compostable material, David Freireich, a company representative, told Bloomberg Environment.