No matter who wins the Feb. 4 matchup between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis, this year’s Super Bowl LII will be a victory for the green sports movement. If all goes according to plan, it will be a “zero-waste” Super Bowl. A team of partners announced yesterday that it has laid the framework to divert more than 90% of potential waste generated on game day to reuse and recycling instead of the landfill. (Rates over 90% are generally considered “zero waste.”)
Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium has been working the entire season toward this goal, increasing the stadium’s diversion rate by roughly 55%, reaching a high of 83% in January. An event like the Super Bowl can generate over 40 tons of waste.
One of the challenges of recycling and composting at public events is getting people to throw their waste into right bins. At the game, green ambassadors will be on hand at the stadium’s waste stations—with separate bins for recycling, composting and landfill—to help fans get their trash in the correct container. Standardized signage from Recycle Across America will be on all the bins to help guide fans. The stadium also uses a post-game waste sort to insure each waste stream is as contaminant-free as possible.
The effort will also take opportunities to repurpose items, like discarded handbags, signage and construction materials, through local community organizations. (Yes, large handbags that were surrendered at security used to be thrown away! Now they are donated to Dress for Success.) All of the landfill-bound waste will be incinerated and converted to energy.
As part of the work leading up to the Super Bowl, Amarak converted more than 70 different service ware and other products to compostable versions. They’ve made an effort to minimize food waste in the kitchen by composting food trimmings, and unused bulk ingredients are donated through Second Harvest to local food banks and charities. Unserved, prepared food from Super Bowl events will be distributed to local shelters and community kitchens, as well.
The NFL has tapped Super Bowl XL MVP and Pittsburgh Steelers Legend Hines Ward to be the face of a social media campaign, called Rush2Recycle, to educate fans about recycling to inspire them to tackle waste at home. Videos, tips and other resources are available at Rush2Recycle.com.
A group of partners, including the NFL, PepsiCo, Aramark, U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority worked together to pull off these zero-waste efforts, and instead of it only happening for a single game, like it did in Arizona in 2015, the goal was to make these changes permanent, which is a environmental boon for the Minneapolis community and sets an example that other sports arenas can follow. The league is already looking to make the 2019 Super Bowl in Atlanta zero waste as well.