As the 55th Super Bowl arrived, I was reminded of a social studies class in middle school when I watched a video on the amount of popcorn Americans ate on the day of the Super Bowl. It was a crazy statistic of several times around the Earth!
This made me wonder how much waste the super bowl creates each year and if there is anything the NFL or stadiums are doing to lower their waste. Most of us have been to some sort of sporting event, whether that be an NHL or NFL game, college football game, or even a high school game.
We know how almost every time we get at least a drink, maybe popcorn, nachos, candy or other snacks or meals, this can generate a lot of waste from food and beverage containers as well as the food waste itself.
According to a National Geographic article, in an average NFL game, 80,000 pounds are trash is thrown out. This is equal to four dump trucks worth of garbage. That may not seem like a lot but remember all that trash is produced in one stadium in just three hours. Now think of all the games across the country every week, that can add up to a lot of trash just for our enjoyment of watching sports.
I was surprised to find out the NFL and certain stadiums have been trying to reduce their waste, especially during Super Bowl games. Last year alone Super Bowl food vendors made 10,000 hot dogs, 6,000 short ribs, and 2,700 lobster tails. It was awesome to read that for the last several years they have partnered with Food Rescue so whatever doesn’t sell they donate and the leftovers are distributed to homeless shelters and food pantries around the country.
They save 40,000 pounds of food waste which is equivalent to the amount of food waste 111 average American households generate per year. If every stadium for every sporting game across the nation adopted this practice and partnered with food donation organizations we could not only tackle food waste, which helps reduce the carbon footprint of the games we love so much, but we could also feed those who cannot afford to feed themselves or their families.
Now, the plastic waste crisis from all the food and beverage containers is another issue but the Super Bowl and stadium sustainability advisors have started using containers made out of decomposable bamboo and beverage cups out of aluminum cans that can be recycled instead of plastic. This system is not perfect as there is still single use plastic from some wrapping, but it is a positive step in the right direction.
Now it also takes the other 100 million viewers outside of the stadium to do their part in reducing their waste. This can be done by buying less packaged foods and making your own food, using reusable cutlery and plates, and even eating foods that have a smaller environmental impact like plant-based foods.
This year’s Super Bowl has now passed but next year think about how you can eliminate your waste and do your part in a zero waste Super Bowl!