Fans headed to Miami will have a world-class experience, with concessions representative of cultures from all over the world.
An unfortunate byproduct, though, will be the large amount of trash left behind when everything is over.
To address this issue, the National Football League and a number of its brand partners have been exploring ways to minimize the environmental impact of the Super Bowl through sustainable concession packaging and new ways to utilize renewable energy resources.
A major effort is being undertaken by Super Bowl’s official concessions vendor Centerplate, in partnership with Bud Light and container manufacturer Ball Corporation, to supply 50,000 recyclable aluminum cups that will be served at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium for the Big Game.
The company claims that using reusable containers instead of the traditional one-time use containers could potentially eliminate the need for the up to half a million plastic cups that would normally be used at a traditional Super Bowl.
After the game, aluminum cups will continue to be used during regular season Miami Dolphins games, the regular tenant of Hard Rock Stadium, as part of a wide-ranging initiative to phase out 99.4% of single-use plastics throughout the stadium operation by the end of 2020.
Centerplate CEO Nathalie Bellon-Szabo has made it a central focus to eliminate plastic as a vital material in their manufacturing operation, leading to the partnership with packaging specialist Ball Corp.
“It’s very important to us to contribute to this event with social impact,” Bellon-Szabo said.
These efforts were introduced at last season’s Tour De France and will be extended to other large scale events, including the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo this summer.
“We’re proud to team up with Centerplate and Bud Light to bring fans at Hard Rock Stadium improved, sustainable hospitality with our game-changing and infinitely recyclable aluminum cup,” said John A. Hayes, Ball’s chairman, president, and chief executive officer. “We developed the aluminum cup to ensure it meets the growing demand for more green products, and we’re excited that our partnership will give this year’s Super Bowl fans the opportunity to do better by the environment.”
Ball has been a strategic partner in these initiatives as they have made large investments in aluminum cup technology at their new facility in Georgia.
With the new manufacturing capabilities, the company will be able to produce hundreds of millions of aluminum cups and is actively looking for additional partners to promote sustainability efforts at events around the world.
“At Ball, when we approach the investment, we think five to ten years down the line,” said Sebastian Siethoff, Ball Corporation’s general manager. “This is a heavily capitalized business with very long-term planning horizons, and we have bigger plans beyond this factory.”
Hard Rock Stadium will be the second venue in the United States to make the wholesale move away from plastic cups and the first within professional sports.
Only Folsom Field, the home to football at the University of Colorado in Boulder, adopted a similar initiative when they eliminated plastic cups during the past football season.
While sustainability efforts usually have larger upfront costs, compared to maintaining the status quo, they can have long term savings as well as positive environmental impacts.
In an age where the immediate bottom line usually wins the day, even over gains down the road, it is encouraging to see these sustainability goals start to penetrate into mainstream sporting events.
If these efforts can continue to show success, sports could become a positive contributor to reducing waste.
Published on forbes.com
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