The Real Winner of Super Bowl LIV? The Planet!

By Lindsay Buchignani

You may have heard some rumors about the 2020 Super Bowl being zero waste… and to our beautiful planet’s luck, that rumor was correct! We all know that stadium games can create a lot of waste, and it’s important to realize the harm that it can have on the environment. Plastic pollution and food waste are both very serious global crises, but there’s hope to help combat these issues. Thanks to the help of conscious vendors, organizations, and consumers, the 54th Super Bowl was on the planet’s side this year!

Let's Talk Waste...Average Waste at a Stadium Game

To understand the true reality of waste at a Super Bowl game, we have to hear the facts! The average NFL game generates 80,000 pounds of trash. During the Super Bowl, this amount of trash can double. On average, 310,000 pounds of carbon emissions are generated by the Super Bowl. As much as 40,000 pounds of food could be potentially wasted. It’s clear that the Super Bowl’s past events have created tons of waste towards the climate crisis. However, 2020 has become the year that they have decided to move towards more sustainable practices!

Ways that the 54th Super Bowl was Sustainable During the Game

The 54th Super Bowl implemented a “zero waste to landfill” concept this year. The main goal was to reduce the food and plastic waste that normally goes to a landfill after a big sporting event. The best way for the Super Bowl to implement this idea was to send the trash to other places that would be more useful to our planet. All of the waste this year either went to a recycling center, a compost facility, or a plant where it was burned for energy. A recycling center focuses on reducing the use of natural resources by reusing materials. A compost facility helps to keep landfills from filling up prematurely, minimizes the need for chemical fertilizers, makes major contributions to soil health, and overall minimizes landfills' contribution to climate change. Plants that burn energy are very efficient because not only do they reduce the amount of material that would normally be buried in landfills, but they use the heat from the fire to make steam for generating electricity.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways the game was sustainable:

  • Attending the game?...Use your phone! Mobile tickets were encouraged to cut back on paper.

  • Buying a drink?...Use an aluminum cup! Aluminum can be endlessly recycled without losing any value.

According to the event’s concessions vendor Centerplate, they chose to partner with Bud Light and container manufacturer Ball Corporation, in order to supply 50,000 recyclable aluminum cups at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium this year.

  • Buying food?...Use compostable material! All utensils were made out of compostable material like bamboo. Bamboo is a great alternative to plastic because it is a renewable and durable grass that can be reused.

  • Need to throw something away? Every trash can had composting and recycling options! There was a team of “bin guards” who were able to make sure fans were throwing away their items into the correct bin.

FUN FACT! Beverages generally come in recyclable containers, while food is served in compostables because recyclable plastic food containers would have to be cleaned to be processed (aka more labor and more waste!).

  • Wondering how the game was lit? Stadiums were lit with energy-saving LED lights!

According to the US Department of Energy, rapid adoption of LED bulbs would collectively save $265 billion over the next 20 years. This switch would also help eliminate the need to build 40 new power plants and save hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.

There are so many alternatives to create a waste-free environment at a sporting game, as long as everyone is doing their part!

Ways that the 54th Super Bowl was Sustainable After the Game

The Food Rescue US-Miami organization played a huge part in helping to be sustainable even after the game was over! The day after the game, the organization picked up leftover food from not just the Super Bowl stadium, but also hotels, restaurants, and markets near the stadium. The food that they rescued was delivered to the following non profit organizations to combat the growing hunger crisis:

Miami Rescue Mission

Broward Outreach Center

Broward Partnership for the Homeless

Lotus House Shelter

Camillus House

The US-Miami team was able to feed individuals and families throughout Miami, while also combatting the growing food waste crisis in the United States. Win-win!

How You Can Be More Sustainable at Sporting Events

It's very easy to get wrapped up in all the fun and excitement of going to a sporting event, especially the Super Bowl! But it's important to remember to be conscious and aware of what you are using and how you can be sustainable. Here is a list of ways you can help:

  • Support environmentally and socially conscious businesses.

  • Support local vendors.

  • Find out what can be recycled and composted to reduce waste.

  • Do your research! (hint: this blog makes you 5 steps ahead on this aspect!)

If the Super Bowl — with almost 75,000 attendees — can make tremendous efforts to be zero waste, then anyone at home can too! It’s an awesome start to the year and the decade to see so many people care for the planet. Let’s keep that sustainable momentum and continue to strive to live zero waste lives in this new decade!

Are you a company wanting to learn more about communicating sustainability to your audience? Shoot us an email at!



Home Guides local National Geographic

National Institute of Health

The Counter

U.S. Energy Information Administration

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