On Sunday, approximately 66,000 fans packed into the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to watch the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots play football. In addition, an estimated 100 million watched from home, attended a party or partook in the festivities at a local eatery.

Yet, something is vastly different this year than past Super Bowls: No waste.

superbowl waste

How can an institution like the Super Bowl go from 40 tons of waste to zero? Here we’ll share how they did it, how you can use this thinking for your event and the initiatives Kalahari Resorts and Conventions has in place today to create less waste.

The Super Bowl’s Path to Zero Waste

Here are the five ways Super Bowl organizers pulled off this initiative:

1. Started planning early.
The organizers put this plan in place over eight months ago with the mission to do everything in their power to keep all items, including posters and signage, out of the local landfill.

2. Solicited partners with a stake in the plan.
The following five sponsors were committed to the plan either with funding, in-kind contributions or both. They were:

  • The NFL
  • Owners and operators of the U.S. Bank Stadium
  • The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority
  • Aramark, the food supplier that converted over 70 supply items into fully compostable products
  • PepsiCo, the beverage and volunteer supplier

3. Hired 200+ students and asked local volunteers to serve as project ambassadors.
These individuals were stationed near the recycle bins and trash receptacles in various locations around the stadium. They informed ticket holders which items could be recycled or composted and asked them to place the items in the respective bins.

4. Initiated a social media campaign with recycling tips for attendees and the at-home audience.
Encouraged individuals to use the #Reduce2Recycle hashtag on their social postings, showing ways they reduced waste.

5. Donated leftover food and supplies to local food pantries and nonprofits.
They identified local pantries and kitchens in advance that could accept leftover food and beverages. Signage and construction materials were donated, too.

The results? Sponsors estimated 90 percent of all items were recycled. The remaining 10 percent went to a waste-to-energy incinerator in the area.

Your Event Can Emulate the Super Bowl

1. Start your planning process early. 

Gather a team consisting of your event staff, venue contacts and chief sponsors. What can you reduce, reuse or recycle? Look at every product and service from F&B to transportation.

2. Solicit partners.
It is much easier to sell a zero-waste event to attendees if the venue, food and beverage provider and other sponsors are on-board with sustainable practices. Convey to each supplier your plan and ask how they will participate in it.

For example, Kalahari partners with Clean the World to collect and recycle our soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels. We have diverted several thousand pounds from landfills to impoverished individuals, helping prevent hygiene-related illnesses.

3. Use meeting ambassadors.
Whether you hire local students, utilize volunteers or have a combination of both, ambassadors can do the following:

  • Stand by recycling and trash bins located throughout the venue, educating participants on the value of recycling.
  • Ask guests to use the same room towels and bedding for the duration of their stay.
  • Take photos and videos of zero-waste methods, such as putting items in recycling bins, turning off lights when exiting meeting rooms, or using tablets or laptops to take notes.

4. Promote your sustainable efforts on social media.
Establish a hashtag and encourage participants to take photos or videos of their efforts and post them to the event’s social channels. Be sure to start the campaign early — at least 30 days before the meeting — and encourage several postings at the event.

5. Work with venue contact to donate leftover food and supplies.
Be sure to understand the state’s health codes and what can and cannot be donated. Find nonprofits to donate your banners, posters and event materials that would otherwise end up in the trash.


Kalahari Is Your Partner for Green Meetings

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is fully committed to sustainable practices and leads the industry in recycling, energy conservation and community outreach initiatives. Click here for a complete listing of Kalahari’s green practices and other ways you can cut back on waste.