Environment scores big with zero-waste project at Super Bowl LII
The NFL scored a zero-waste legacy project at Super Bowl LII, with 91 percent of all trash generated on gameday from 67,612 fans responsibly recovered through composting, recycling and reuse, according to a release.
The landmark project marks the highest diversion rate achieved at U.S. Bank Stadium and at any previous Super Bowl, and aims to serve as the benchmark for future large-scale events.
The results are in following the big game: nearly 63 tons of the 69 tons of gameday waste were recovered through recycling or donation for reuse (62 percent) and composting (29 percent). Recovering waste through composting and recycling reduces waste disposal costs and provides several environmental benefits including reduction of landfill use and reduction of the greenhouse gas generated by the landfill process, gasses which contribute significantly to global warming.
U.S. Bank Stadium partners, including the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, stadium operator SMG, and Aramark, kicked off the effort to achieve a zero-waste operation in 2017, and were joined by the NFL and PepsiCo in the lead-up to Super Bowl LII.
Ahead of gameday, PepsiCo launched the Rush2Recycle campaign to show fans how to make recycling fun and easy in the stadium and at in-home Super Bowl parties across the country.
Critical to hitting the initiative's goals was removing items from stadium inventory that could not be either recycled or composted. Aramark, the food and beverage partner for U.S. Bank Stadium, replaced nearly its entire inventory of food vessels, service products and utensils handed to fans with compostable alternatives.
Other pre-game steps were essential to achieving the zero-waste goal. U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, working with Recycle Across America, designed all illustrated signs for the stadium's new three-bin waste stations to show fans exactly how to sort items.
Recycling and compost bins were made larger and more accessible, while trash bins were made much smaller, encouraging fans to make the right choices for disposing items. In addition, a comprehensive LEED-certification level waste audit was performed in October 2017 to identify specific materials for recovery in the stadium waste stream. A "zero-waste trial run" was performed at a December 2017 Minnesota Vikings home game to encourage fans to properly dispose of waste and to refine gameday practices for Super Bowl LII.
Post-game steps to achieve the 91 percent resource recovery rate at Super Bowl LII were led by SMG and the NFL. The SMG team sorted all fan-generated waste into the correct waste compactors. The waste hauling partners then collected and provided weight-tickets at each destination including the recycling facility, the composting facility and the waste-to-energy facility. This data was reviewed by SMG and combined with the reuse and donation data collected by the NFL from their community partners. When the recycling, composting and donation/reuse data is combined, the total resource recovery rate for gameday waste is 91 percent.
For more than 25 years, the NFL has been the leader in sports event sustainability; creating the first significant stadium solid waste recycling project in America at Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta in 1994.
The NFL and 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 "green" legacy throughout the area. Through the NFL Environmental Program, leftover décor and construction materials from Super Bowl was donated to local organizations for reuse and repurposing. More than 150,000 pounds of unserved, prepared food and beverages from Super Bowl events was distributed to local shelters and community kitchens.