The Super Bowl is Greener than You Might Think

As a lifelong football lover, I have been reading the stories about the upcoming Super Bowl and predictions about whether San Francisco or Kansas City will win. However, there is more to the Super Bowl than just the game; there is the environmental commitment of the NFL, host city, and stadium.  After Tom Garfinkel, President and CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium (site of Super Bowl LIV), saw a 60 Minutes special on plastic pollution, he formed a committee to study how to phase out single use plastics and improve recycling at the facility. In September, he announced that Hard Rock Stadium would commit to phasing out 99.4% of single-use plastics by 2020, including for the big game on Sunday. On its own website, the Hard Rock Stadium notes that it encourages all guests to recycle and makes recycling containers available in all parking lots, at security checkpoints, along the concourses, and in premium areas. The stadium also has a tailgate patrol that hands out blue bags in the parking lots for fans to recycle their tailgating items. The bags are then left picked up from around the parking lot by staff, while fans are inside watching the game. Cups at the stadium are all aluminum, which can be endlessly recycled.

The Super Bowl Host Committee is also highlighting the environment of the host city, Miami, through the Oceans to Everglades (O2E) Initiative. The initiative is running in conjunction with the Everglades Foundation, Ocean Conservancy, and NFL Green. It creates a platform for education and environmental efforts throughout Florida in the lead up to the Super Bowl on February 2. Activities include beach cleanups, invasive species education, recycling initiatives, and more. The hope is to create awareness about the unique eco-system in South Florida, including the Everglades National Park, which is celebrating its 72nd birthday.

The NFL Green program focuses on operating in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. The Super Bowl environmental program, which goes back over 25 years has five main initiatives: solid waste management, reuse of materials, food recovery, sports equipment and book donations, and greenhouse gas reduction. The program plants tree seedlings in the host city and uses renewable energy credits to offset energy use at the Super Bowl. One of the centerpieces of the program is the green week, which begins before the event. The NFL also joined the Green Sports Alliance, an environmentally focused trade organization, in 2018. At last year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta, the EPA and Second Helpings Atlanta, a nonprofit food rescue operation, recovered 17,044 pounds of food from Super Bowl LIII, which was enough for 14,203 meals for the needy in the Atlanta area. A recycling rally before the game held at zoo Atlanta yielded 42,446 pounds of e-waste for recycling. At Super Bowl LII in Minnesota 91% of all trash generated was recycled, composted, or reused.

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