The Super Bowl generates 40 tons of trash. It's possible none of it will go to a landfill.

In the world of sports, there are few spectacles bigger than the Super Bowl.

Equal parts athleticism and consumerism, the annual showcase is often the most-watched television event of the year. And for the host city, it's a legit economic engine.

Super Bowl XLIX was played in Glendale, Arizona, with neighboring cities Phoenix and Scottsdale hosting parties and events. The state saw an economic impact to the tune of $719.4 million. In the words of Joe Biden, "This is a big f-ing deal."


But for as much as the Super Bowl generates a ton of cash, it also generates a ton of something else — waste.

Tom Brady celebrates after the Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

The Super Bowl can bring a ton of benefits to its host city. But it also brings some pretty huge burdens.

About a million people will flock to the Twin Cities for this year's game and celebrations. That's a lot of crowds, a lot of traffic, and a lot of garbage.

The first two are tough to avoid, but there's a plan in place to help with the latter.

A packed U.S. Bank Stadium, which will host the Super Bowl Feb. 4, 2018. Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images.

This year, some of the game's corporate partners are joining forces to host Super Bowl's first zero-waste legacy project.

U.S. Bank Stadium, the NFL, Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, PepsiCo, and food service provider Aramark are teaming up for the lofty endeavor of producing no waste during the main event. That doesn't mean fans won't throw anything away — instead, organizers hope to keep the more than 40 tons of trash typically generated during a Super Bowl out of the landfill.

90% of the garbage from the game, food waste and paper, will be composted or recycled. The remaining 10% of waste will likely be plastics that can't be reused. These will go to a waste-to-energy incinerator where it will be burned and converted to power. (These facilities aren't without controversy, as the emissions may affect air quality over time.)

The Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona launched a zero-waste effort in 2015. In addition to waste from game day, community members repurposed textiles and recyclables from pre-game events and celebrations. Even kids got in on the action, donating 33,000 supplies to schools in the area. The all-in effort led to 73% of waste diverted from landfills.

Logan Ryan of the New England Patriots possibly celebrating the fact that this confetti won't end up in a landfill. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

And this isn't a one-and-done pursuit. Organizers hope to use their learnings to help other stadiums host zero-waste events.

Following the Super Bowl, best practices from the project will be shared widely with other event organizers, with the goal of hosting zero-waste events around the world, all year-round. And what better beta test than one of the biggest events of the year?

“What differentiates it from anything we’ve done in the past is the commitment to not just doing this for one day, but to work together to change the paradigm," Jack Groh, director of the NFL's environmental program told Fortune.

Waste bins separating recyclables, compost, and trash at the Summer X Games. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

No matter who wins the game, the MVP is always the planet.

Whether at home or at one of the biggest sporting events in the world, we can't take our eyes off what's important: having a safe, clean, healthy place to live for generations to come.

Most Shared

We all know that social media can be a cesspool of trolly negativity, but sometimes a story comes along that totally restores your faith in the whole thing. Enter the KFC proposal that started off being mocked and ended up with a swarm of support from individuals and companies who united to give the couple an experience to remember.

Facebook user Tae Spears shared the story with screenshots from Twitter, and the response has been overwhelming.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Twitter / ESPN

Madison Square Garden in New York City is known for having hosted some legendary performances. George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh in '71, Billy Joel's 12 sellouts in '06, and Carmelo Anthony's 62 points in a 2014 victory against the Charlotte Bobcats, just to name a few.

But it's hard to imagine one person holding the legendary arena in the palm of their hand quite like Pete DuPré, better known as "Harmonica Pete," did on Veterans Day.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Many of us are too young to remember the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 of 1986, much less any details about it. But thanks to a viral Facebook post from Misfit History, some attention is being shed on an incredible heroine who saved many American lives in the standoff.

The post reads:

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq. / YouTube

Whenever life becomes too tedious or stressful, it seems that the human psyche has a release valve that turns on and we just go, "F it."

I give up. I no longer care. I got nothing left.

It's a wonderful moment when we go from being at our wits end to being on the other side of the madness. Because, after all, as Mark Manson, author of "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" says:

You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact.
Keep Reading Show less
popular