More and more professional sports teams are looking to reduce waste during games

This year’s NBA season gave the Atlanta Hawks a chance to do something different. About an hour before a recent home game with the Milwaukee Bucks, another type of team reunion happened in the basement of State Farm Arena.

“Those of you who have come here, maybe you can share some of your best practices on how easy it is for you to break the ice,” Sofi Armenakian told a dozen volunteers wearing T -green shirts.

Armenakian is the Hawks’ sustainability director, and the volunteers made up the team’s Zero Waste Squad.

“Those of you who are new, we’re going to do a quick role-play and go over what we’re doing,” she said.

What they would do is stand near the trash cans telling fans where to throw compostable mugs, food trays, plates, forks and spoons from concession stands and how to recycle beer cans and bottles of beer. aluminum water.

The stands are nearly full again this summer at select sporting events across the country – from big league stadiums to basketball and hockey playoffs. But while fans enjoy the chilled beer and nachos at the game, some pro teams are taking a more active role in making sure all that trash doesn’t end up in a landfill.

“This is what we are here for”

Concession booths at State Farm Arena in Atlanta serve food and drink in compostable containers, as part of the team’s efforts to reduce waste. (Photo by Emil Moffatt)

Even though the State Farm Arena’s composting, recycling and landfill bins are clearly marked, Armenakian told the volunteers, some fans are struggling to understand where things are going.

“You can tell someone is walking up and they see the thing that says, ‘Plastic bottles and cans’ and they’re holding a compostable cup that looks like plastic. They’re like, ‘Uhhh?’ And they have good intentions, but they always do the wrong thing. That’s what we’re here for, ”she said.

On a night like this, fans of the sold-out arena will produce nearly 14 tons of trash. Armenakian said the Hawks’ goal is to have at least 90% of it somewhere other than a landfill. And the Hawks aren’t the only team looking to cut waste. Professional leagues across the country have developed sustainability programs over the past decade.

Baseball even awards the Green Glove Award to the team that does the most to protect the environment. It’s an honor the San Francisco Giants have won almost every year. It’s no surprise, said environmental consultant Allen Hershkowitz, who works with a number of sports teams and leagues.

“The composting infrastructure in San Francisco is very different from the composting infrastructure in Dallas or Kansas City,” [Missouri]”said Hershkowitz.

And as more teams and locations look to supply their concession stands with biodegradable products, more manufacturers, including one based in Georgia, are making it a priority.

WinCup recently signed deals with professional women’s golf and Delaware North dealership to supply herbal drink straws and stirrers.

Drinks are served in biodegradable cups during the Atlanta Hawks game.
The Atlanta Hawks serve drinks in biodegradable cups, as part of the team’s efforts to reduce waste. (Photo by Emil Moffatt)

Company president Michael Winters said WinCup invests in research and development of more sustainable products because that is where it sees future demand.

“Where are consumers going… in the years and months to come? said Winters. “Where can we take this company to provide environmental and sustainable solutions? “

Returning to the Hawks game, a fan dropped an aluminum beer container in a recycling bin, earning praise from James Baskin Jr., a Zero Waste Squad volunteer.

“We just wanted to say thank you,” Baskin said as he handed the fan some Hawks gear and snapped a photo to share on social media. “We’re trying to promote recycling in the arena, and you did a good thing, man.”

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