The NFL has joined forces with PepsiCo, Aramark, U.S. Bank Stadium and the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority to make Super Bowl LII a zero-waste event. Together, the partners have launched Rush2Recycle, a game plan to recover more than 90 percent — over 40 tons — of stadium waste during Super Bowl LII on Sunday, February 4. This zero-waste effort aims to leave a positive legacy at U.S. Bank Stadium and create a playbook for other leagues, teams, sites operators and fans to curb waste in their own communities.
Since June 2017, U.S. Bank Stadium partners have increased the stadium’s diversion rate by roughly 55 percent, reaching a high of 83 percent by January 2018. After months of preparation to eliminate trash materials from the stadium, the 90 percent game day goal will maximize recycling and composting. To ensure the success of the initiative, stadium partners have introduced a tri-bin waste collection system, a dedicated organics compactor and have implemented a detailed post-game waste sort.
“Consumers care about sustainability, waste and recycling, but information about recycling and waste management practices can be unclear, technical and not especially consumer friendly. We’ve worked with U.S. Bank Stadium and Recycle Across America to relabel hundreds of bins in the stadium so fans know where to put their waste materials. Clear and standard signage is key,” Roberta Barbieri, VP of Global Water and Environmental Solutions at PepsiCo, told Sustainable Brands.
“The team has even made the waste bins smaller inside the stadium to encourage recycling and composting. And the opening of the waste receptacle was redesigned to help fans get the right materials in the right bins. Simple changes like that can make a big difference.”
“The NFL is a responsible steward of the environment in all areas of our business,” said Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL. “For 25 years, the NFL has strived to reduce the environmental impact of its events and leave a positive green legacy in host communities. Through this project, the League and its partners hope to set a new standard of environmental sustainability at the Super Bowl.”
Through a social media campaign featuring Super Bowl XL MVP and Pittsburgh Steelers legend Hines Ward, the effort will also engage fans nationwide, inviting them to join the Rush2Recycle team and providing tips to recycle more and intercept waste at Super Bowl parties and year-round. The campaign features a series of short ad spots in which Hines teaches viewers how to recycle the right way — and have fun while doing it. Ward will be sharing his own recycling end zone dance, the Rush2Recycle Shuffle, along with tips and other resources.
The Rush2Recycle program is the next logical step in the NFL’s journey to becoming a leader in sports event sustainability. At Super Bowl XXVII in Atlanta in 1994, the NFL rolled out the first significant stadium solid waste recycling project in America. This year, the organization, in collaboration with the Minnesota Super Bowl LII Host Committee, developed a series of initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of Super Bowl LII activities and leave a sustainable legacy throughout the area. Through the NFL Environmental Program, solid waste from Super Bowl events is being recycled and leftover décor and construction materials will be donated to local organizations for reuse and repurposing.
Tens of thousands of pounds of unserved, prepared foods from Super Bowl events will be distributed to local shelters and community kitchens. U.S. Bank Stadium and several other major NFL Super Bowl event venues will be powered using renewable and low-carbon energy to reduce the climate impact of Super Bowl events.
Anna Isaacson, SVP of Social Responsibility for the NFL, told Sustainable Brands that the Super Bowl LII zero-waste initiative is just the beginning — the NFL intends to replicate this year’s waste management efforts at other events in the future.
“It is always the NFL’s goal to leave a lasting, positive legacy in host communities. This year’s zero waste legacy project is no exception. The most impressive part of the initiative is that it will serve as a permanent installation at U.S. Bank Stadium. We hope this serves as a playbook for other leagues and sporting events in the future. The best way to improve our events is to learn from our experiences and consult with experts and stakeholders in each market to determine what is feasible, achievable and desired in each host community. Our legacy projects always help inform our strategies at other tent-pole events including Pro Bowl, Draft, Combine, and future Super Bowls,” Isaacson said.