Can This Year’s Super Bowl Score Zero?

Photo: Michael Noel, Forbes

The organizers of Super Bowl LIV at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium have a game plan to get to zero — they want none of the big game’s expected 160,000 pounds of waste to end up in a landfill.  Our friends at National Geographic reported this week that the organizers’ plan is that aluminum cups and cans (yep no plastic ones) will go to a recycling center, utensils and napkins to a compost facility, and the rest to a plant where it will be burned for energy.

Why This Matters:  There is no bigger stage than the Super Bowl to send a message about reducing our trash “footprint.” And stadiums are the perfect setting to maximize results because people attending have to buy everything they need to consume at the game itself, and most items get thrown away on-site before people leave.  Miami is aiming to beat Minnesota — on trash, that is — because at the 2018 Super Bowl hosted in Minnesota, 90% of the trash went to either a composter or to a recycling facility.  Minnesota’s other game day play was to station a team of defenders at every trash receptacle to intercept any items headed into the wrong bin.  To elevate their game, the Stadium brought in experts from Ocean Conservancy to help them design the plays, and another of our favorite organizations, Food Rescue US, will take leftover food after the game and distribute it to people in need.  Touchdown!

Innovative Plays to Raise the Sustainability Score

Thanks to the experts they consulted, Hard Rock Stadium staff is covering all the bases (sorry for the baseball metaphor) — “kitchen oil will be recovered for biofuel, seafood will be sourced locally, stadiums are lit with energy-saving LED lights, and mobile tickets are being encouraged to cut back on paper.”  It also helps that consumers are driving change in the marketplace generally so there are now more options for single-use plastic alternatives.  The Stadium’s concessions vendor, Centerplate, in partnership with Bud Light and container manufacturer Ball Corporation, will have 50,000 recyclable and refillable aluminum cups on hand for the game.

And it is a great opportunity to educate a large group of people about the right way to dispose of their trash.  Experts studying the problem found that one of the most effective ways to eliminate confusion and ease recycling (and I, Monica, admit to being confused myself often) is to make it simple by emphasizing “the difference between what consumers drink and eat because beverages generally come in recyclable containers, while food is served in compostables.”  Aluminum drink cans and cups will go into one bin with round openings, and food plates, napkins, and utensils will go another bin.  Smart.


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