This Year’s Super Bowl Filled 70,000 Plates on the Path to Zero Waste

Via EPA Connect.

This post is a follow-up to my “AZ I See It” column in the Arizona Republic on January 26, 2015.

This year during the Super Bowl, the first “Kick the Waste” campaign took place at Super Bowl Central—the 12-block area in the heart of downtown Phoenix where thousands enjoyed parties and live music in the week leading up to the championship game. The city was host to quite a party on Superbowl Sunday. Fans gathered for good football and good food, whether they joined in the downtown celebrations, tailgated outside the stadium, or ordered from vendors in the stands.

All too often, what’s not consumed goes to waste. Every year Americans throw away more food than any other type of waste — almost 35 million tons — and much of it is still edible. The “Kick the Waste” campaign — a collaboration between the city of Phoenix, nonprofit food rescue organization Waste Not, the National Football League, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, vendors and fans — worked to make sure that any leftover food was shared with those who needed a good meal, and any waste was disposed of in the most beneficial way for the environment.

The results are in from this tremendous effort, and they definitely scored a touchdown:

  • The total amount of edible food donated from the Super Bowl-related events was 69,260 pounds—enough to feed 70,000 people.
  • 73 percent of unused food was diverted through donation, recycling and composting at the Super Bowl festivities.
  • More than 120,000 aluminum beverage containers were recycled from Super Bowl Central. They weighed 3,750 pounds.

The impact doesn’t stop there. This campaign was used to test out ways for Phoenix to collect and process food waste from its residents. The city is learning from it to design a state-of-the-art composting facility at its transfer station for yard waste and food scraps.

San Francisco is already gearing up to host Super Bowl 50 festivities, and it’s got Zero Waste Event requirements already in place. The new Levi’s Stadium is packed with green features – including a green roof, water reclamation and farm-to-table dining. Outside of the Super Bowl, sports teams across the nation are collaborating with us to green the game, and almost 800 sports teams, stadiums, universities, grocery stores and a range of companies and organizations join our Food Recovery Challenge to prevent and reduce wasted food.

Congratulations to this year’s winners, the New England Patriots, and also to Phoenix and all those Super Bowl fans who kicked food waste out of the landfill and into the compost and recycling bins!

Jared Blumenfeld is the U.S. EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest

2015 Collegiate Sports Sustainability Summit Call for Presenters deadline extended

June 24-26, 2015, West Lafayette, Indiana
More information about the conference at
Deadline: March 6, 2015

This year’s agenda will be designed to bring together collegiate athletics staff, campus recreational managers, sustainability professionals, and recycling/facility managers together to identify ways to achieve common campus sustainability goals through sports and athletics, save money, foster better inter-departmental relationships, and increase recognition for your institution’s efforts.

Submit a proposal online.

Greening the Game

Read the full post from EPA Connect.

Millions of Americans across the country tuned into the big game a couple weeks ago, which was played for the first time under energy-efficient LED lighting. Why the switch? These lights use at least 75 percent less power than incandescent, saving the venue money on its energy bill and energy, which helps reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

The NFL isn’t alone in its journey to fight climate change by becoming more sustainable. Last week we highlighted a number of leading sports teams, organizations, and venues across the industry who are taking action, including our work with greening collegiate sports though the Game Day Recycling Challenge and the collegiate sports sustainability summit. Recycling conserves vital resources, saves energy, and, in 2012, reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road for a year. Recycling also creates green jobs and provides essential resources. And during her recent visit to the X Games in Colorado, our Administrator Gina McCarthy, heard first-hand from athletes and the businesses that support them how they are working to protect their winters from climate change.

This Super Bowl party won’t waste any food

Read the full story at AzCentral.

But this week, in partnership with the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and Super Bowl XLIX, the first Reduced Waste Challenge is taking place at Super Bowl Central. That’s the 12-block area in the heart of downtown Phoenix where thousands will enjoy parties and live music.

The Super Bowl Central team is preparing the right way, by encouraging vendors, business owners and attendees to use recyclable materials, as well as reusable items such as take-home plastic cups and bottles. This means that there won’t be much waste to start with, and that makes all the difference.

They are also planning to turn food scraps into compost. Compost can be made from food or yard waste, materials that currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away. Composting creates organic material that can enrich the soil and help plants grow, keeping it out of landfills where it takes up space and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The low-down on crumb rubber turfs

Read the full post from Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.

We recently blogged about concerns surrounding artificial turfs (with Gifs!), and a particular type of artificial turf has raised quite a few concerns- crumb rubber. Developed in the mid-1960s, synthetic turfs began popping up in stadiums and fields for professional teams. Now synthetic turfs have become more widespread, being used in parks, golf courses, playgrounds, and even cruise ships.

But with high levels of lead being found in some crumb rubber turfs, concerns are valid. Made from recycled tires, several different brands of tires can be found in one field. The EPA indicated that mercury, lead, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, and other heavy metals and carcinogens, to name a few, have been found in tires.

Old golf courses become new kind of wilderness

Listen to the full story at Marketplace.

I’m in a dry overgrown field of thistles and goldenrod with Michael Enright, the conservation manager with Five Rivers MetroParks.

“I’ve been to Africa several times and it reminds me of the savannah there when I look out across it,” says Enright.

Not too long ago, this was a trim, manicured golf course called Larch Tree. The private course in the Dayton suburb of Trotwood went out of business after the recession, and the parks district bought it to turn the 190 acres back into a mix of wetlands, streams and grasses. The property is adjacent to wetland restoration area of over 350 acres already owned by MetroParks, so the project will result in more than 500 acres of contiguous wildlife habitat just west of Dayton.

A Clean Ohio restoration grant helped cover much of the cost of the purchase. Enright says it helps that property values around here are low and not much is getting built; they weren’t competing with developers for the land.

“The economic downturn certainly has aided open space preservation,” Enright says.

Golf courses have been closing down by the dozens, and old greens have gone wild in Michigan, Tennessee and even California in the last few years. Florida attorney Dawn Meyers says in her neck of the woods, developers often grab up property quickly, but she says the neighbors usually don’t want a bunch of buildings going in.

“They like the view, they like the open space and they don’t want to see it developed into anything else,” Meyers says. She says parks or wildlife areas could be a good option. “No matter what happens on this property, it’s not going to be a golf course any more.”

For Dayton’s parks district, the deal is working out pretty well: Once the restoration is done, MetroParks will pay it off by selling wetland mitigation credits to developers who’ve destroyed wetlands elsewhere  – it’s called mitigation banking. In California, at least one company is working on a golf course conversion into a mitigation bank as a private enterprise.

As we’re leaving Larch Tree, a neighbor, Elmer Williams, pulls up in a van.

“Are you allowed to fish in here?” He’s been fishing the pond since the golf course closed – he’s happy it’s going to be a park. “I think it’s great! You know, someone needs to take it over and make it back to something good. Add more fish.”

The marshy ponds and crumbling trails are already open to the public.