NFL announces zero waste plan for Super Bowl

Project aims to set new standard for recycling and waste management at future large-scale events.

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January 28, 2018
Edited by Adam Redling
Mixed C&D Recycling Projects

The NFL, in partnership with PepsiCo, Aramark, U.S. Bank Stadium and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, announced Rush2Recycle, a game plan to recover more than 90 percent—more than 40 tons—of stadium waste at Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4. After months of preparation, the 90-percent game day goal will maximize recycling and composting efforts at the stadium. This zero waste effort aims to leave a positive green legacy at U.S. Bank Stadium and in the Super Bowl host city, and create a playbook for other leagues, teams, site operators and fans to intercept waste in their communities.

On game day, every chef, custodian and fan will be part of the team working to recover at least 90 percent of stadium waste by recycling bottles and cans; composting organic materials like food waste and serviceware; and repurposing items like discarded handbags, signage and construction materials through local community organizations.

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 food from Super Bowl events will be distributed to local shelters and community kitchens. Additionally, U.S. Bank Stadium and several other major NFL Super Bowl event venues will be powered using "green energy" to reduce their climate impact.

Rush2Recyle staff will encourage stadium fans to recycle and compost. Through this process, stadium partners introduced a tri-bin waste collection system, invested in a dedicated organics compactor and implemented a detailed post-game waste sort plan to insure each waste stream is contaminant-free. This work will leave a lasting impact, as the stadium's waste diversion infrastructure will be permanent at U.S. Bank Stadium, helping protect the environment and reduce waste hauling costs in the future.

"The NFL is a responsible steward of the environment in all areas of our business," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says. "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."

The effort will also engage fans nationwide by inviting them to join the Rush2Recycle team and providing tips to recycle more and intercept waste year-round. PepsiCo and Hines Ward, former Pittsburgh Steelers legend and Rush2Recycle ambassador, are launching a social media campaign to showcase recycling MVPs across the country and inspire fans to tackle waste in their communities.

"At PepsiCo, we know that developing more sustainable packaging and reusing and recycling materials are key to sustaining our success in the long-term, both as a company and as a society," PepsiCo Chairman & CEO Indra Nooyi says. "And we could not be more thrilled to join this groundbreaking effort. There's no grander stage in all of American sports than the Super Bowl, and we look forward to working with our partners at the NFL, Aramark and U.S. Bank Stadium to shine a spotlight on the critical importance of recycling and waste reduction."

"The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority is proud of the hard work and dedication put forth by all stadium partners to build a sustainable, zero waste program for U.S. Bank Stadium. This dedication echoes the state of Minnesota's commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and building an operation that is friendly to our environment," Michael Vekich, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, owner of U.S. Bank Stadium, says. "We're excited to be working with the NFL and PepsiCo to officially kickoff our zero waste initiative, an operational program that will leave a lasting impact on our facility for years to come."

This project brought all key stakeholders in the Minneapolis community together with one goal in mind—a dramatic reduction in waste leading up to and following Super Bowl LII. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the stadium's operator SMG and Aramark have worked diligently to create and implement a robust set of waste initiatives aimed at reducing the overall amount of landfill waste in the area. In addition to the partners listed above, Minnesota Vikings leadership teams, recycling officials from Hennepin County, executives from Phoenix-based waste hauler Republic Services and community outreach staff from the Minnesota Super Bowl LII Host Committee provided support for this initiative. 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. Achieving zero waste (90 percent waste diversion) at Super Bowl LII will be an accomplishment that all partners have worked together to achieve.

"Aramark takes great pride in championing innovations that positively impact the communities we serve while inspiring others to make a difference," Eric Foss, chairman, president and CEO of Aramark, says. "As U.S. Bank Stadium's food and beverage partner, we are excited to be at the forefront of collaborating with the NFL and its partners to implement our industry-leading waste minimization practices and create a sustainable game day environment that will also benefit Minneapolis far beyond Super Bowl LII."