NFL Tackles Waste at Super Bowl LII!
By Kevin Pink, Marketing & Development Specialist
This Sunday, the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles will square off in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Players have been training for months, preparing to give it their best effort on the NFL’s biggest stage. But away from the cameras, another competition will rage. The NFL’s Rush2Recycle program will be taking on stadium waste. Its goal? To recover at least 90% of waste generated during the big game- over 40 tons!
It’s a tall order, but the NFL has done this before. At Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994, the League rolled out the first significant stadium solid waste plan in America. Learning from this experience, the NFL has assembled an all-star roster of big-time players to support Rush2Recycle. Led by corporate partners including PepsiCo, Aramark (the stadium’s food and beverage partner), and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, Rush2Recycle aims to claim victory over waste and “set a new standard of environmental sustainability at the Super Bowl,” according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. To go along with that, Rush2Recycle has established a deep bench of chefs, custodians, students, and of course the fans, to make this year’s Super Bowl a zero-waste event!
Rush2Recycle has taken some proactive measures to make it easier for fans to get into the recycling game. U.S. Bank Stadium and RecycleAmerica re-labeled hundreds of bins throughout the facility and added new bin openings designed to help fans sort their waste correctly. They’ve also made waste bins smaller to encourage recycling and composting. Aramark will convert all in-stadium service ware to compostable materials, giving fans sustainable ways to enjoy their favorite game-time snacks.
In addition, Rush2Recycle will be on the lookout to intercept waste at every opportunity. PepsiCo has hired nearly 200 students to serve as “recycling ambassadors”, to help fans sort their materials into the appropriate bins. After the game, U.S. Bank stadium staff will hand-sort materials from the bins to ensure there is no contamination. After the sort, recycling will be hauled away and organic waste will be composted.
There’s more to this team than what happens during the Super Bowl, though! Tens of thousands of pounds of prepared, unserved food from Super Bowl events will be distributed to local shelters and community kitchens. Abandoned items like phone chargers, batteries, and purses (remember, you can’t bring these inside most football stadiums) will be handed off to area community organizations, along with signage and construction materials.
Not everyone can make it to the big game. If you’re hosting or attending a Super Bowl party, you can do your part to recycle too! Pittsburgh Steelers legend Hines Ward is headlining a social media campaign to help fans make their Super Bowl parties waste-free. You can get tips to help you be the MVP of your party by visiting the Rush2Recycle website, and you can show off your recycling end zone dance moves on social media using #rush2recycle. If you’re hosting or attending a Super Bowl party, you can also check out some of our favorite tips for keeping it green.
Last but not least, it’s important to point out that while U.S. Bank Stadium is making a huge effort to make Super Bowl LII a zero-waste event, many NFL teams, and the League as a whole are deeply committed to sustainability.
Right here in Massachusetts, Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots) has taken several steps to green its operations. From installing energy-efficient hand dryers that save 6 million paper towels a year to utilizing an industrial grinder to turn food waste into pulp for anaerobic digestion, Gillette Stadium is committed to making its operations more sustainable. In 2016, the stadium worked with RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (a program funded by the MassDEP and delivered by the Center for EcoTechnology to help businesses in Massachusetts reduce waste) to assess the stadium’s waste diversion programs. As a result, the stadium identified opportunities to increase diversion of cans and bottles. Gillette Stadium subsequently hosted RecyclingWorks’ WasteWise Forum, further proving its commitment to sustainability.
So this weekend, when you’re rooting for the Eagles or the Patriots, or just for some great commercials, keep in mind that we can all win by tackling waste in the Rush2Recycle!
For more on greening your Super Bowl party, check out some of our favorite tips!