Green Your Stadium: Sports Venues Reducing Food Waste

By Marketing Assistant Sonja Favaloro

When you think of attending a professional sports game, do images of eating hot dogs and ice cream instantly come to mind? Food at sports events is an important part of the experience– but it does not have to be wasteful and environmentally damaging. Considering the massive size of stadiums and the number of people they serve, sports venues have an opportunity to make an enormous difference for the environment by reducing food waste and sourcing food locally. The good news is, many of them are starting to do so!

A recent report by the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) and Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) features 20 professional sports venues across North America that are implementing more sustainable food service and disposal practices. Many of these venues have programs to donate or compost excess food. The report includes tips for starting composting programs at sports venues.

redsox

Boston’s Fenway Park, with over 37,000 seats.

Stadiums serve hundreds of thousands of people each year, providing a great opportunity to reduce food waste, and also to support local, sustainable agriculture. RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts assists businesses and institutions with recycling and food waste reduction through composting and food donation. To speak to a recycling expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at info@recyclingworksma.com.

The report emphasizes several steps stadiums can take to reduce waste, including:

MENU PLANNING
-manage portions and track demand to avoid waste
-include vegetarian and vegan options
-versatility regarding local and seasonal ingredients

PROCUREMENT
-organic, antibiotic free, seasonal, local produce

PREPARATION EFFICIENCY
-minimize food scraps during preparation
-use water and energy efficiently in kitchens

SERVICE WARE AND PACKAGING
-reduce packaging
-offer reusable, recyclable and compostable serviceware

WASTE DIVERSION
-donate unsold prepared food
-add composting and recycling infrastructure to the facility
-educate fans and staff on how to reduce waste

The report also highlights many stadiums that are successfully implementing these practices. Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, and TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins and Celtics, were both celebrated for their sustainable food efforts. Fenway Park sources most of its produce from a farm only 35 miles away. The report quotes Stadium Manager Rich Roper, who explains that Fenway incorporates regional offering in their menus, and notes that,

“better food doesn’t always have to mean more expensive food. If you are designing seasonal and local menus, your food costs are going to be lower. If you surround yourself with a great team and pay attention to how you are running your business, you can still run reasonable food costs if you know how to plan and execute menus.”

celtics

TD Garden in Boston, with over 19,000 seats.

TD Garden, home to the Boston Celtics and Bruins, is also working toward supporting local agriculture by sourcing produce and cheese from 20 local farms. The report quotes Regional Executive Chef Kevin Doherty, who manages the premium hospitality business at the TD Garden, as saying, “When I think of a burger, I think 100 percent ground chuck, nothing else.”

 

 

The report continues,

“After touring an enormous meatpacking plant in Chicago and witnessing the problems associated with chemical use and tracking sourcing, Doherty promised his staff they wouldn’t buy from that plant anymore. Instead, he sources from more local and sustainable suppliers, often from the farms in western Massachusetts. Doherty is proud of the food at TD Garden, saying, “there’s no hormones; we’re not messing with Mother nature, it’s real food. It’s food the way it should be.”’

Given the large volume of fans attending games, and the cultural prominence of sports teams, efforts such as those celebrated in this report have enormous potential to shift food culture towards consciousness, sustainability, and food waste diversion. To learn more about methods and resources for businesses and institutions to reduce waste, contact RecyclingWorks via our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at info@recyclingworksma.com.

 

 

 

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