Over the past six or seven years, a quiet revolution has been taking place as the sports industry—national and international—has increasingly committed to environmental stewardship. As more and more information about the sheer impact of sports on the environment became available, the industry has been spurred into action.
After all, as a 2012 report from the NRDC, aptly entitled 'Game Changer', pointed out: "Hundreds of millions of people of all political, social, religious and economic backgrounds watch sporting events each year, and the global supply chain of the sports industry includes the largest and most influential corporations in the world. In fact, while only 13% of Americans say they follow science, 61% identify themselves as sports fans."
Sports hold a central place in economic, social and cultural life. The sports industry has an incredible potential for large-scale impact on the environmental dimensions of sustainability. It's cheering to see that today, sports teams and venues are among those leading the way in developing better recycling and waste strategies. One of the most striking initiatives is the Green Sports Alliance, in which teams from six major professional sports leagues joined forces to create a non-profit organization aimed at helping leagues, teams and stadiums to improve their environmental performance. Since its founding in 2011, the Alliance has grown to over 170 teams and venues from 15 sports leagues.
Its third summit—'a platform for the sports community to unite around sustainability '—takes place this year on August 26-28 in New York City. And, just as in previous years, NatureWorks is collaborating with the Green Sports Alliance to support the summit, where the company will discuss how its Ingeo material can contribute to the realization of zero-waste targets.
As Doug Kunneman, foodservice industry segment manager for NatureWorks, says: "The Green Sports Alliance is dedicated to sports venue environmental improvement through innovation, and we are proud that Ingeo bioplastic contributes to the success of the Alliance member's efforts."
Biodegradable compostable plastics can make a difference
The use of bioplastics, together with changes in collection practices, are practical and immediate ways to lower the environmental footprint of sports venues, according to NatureWorks, whose PLA material is used to make, among other things, compostable foodservice ware. The company points to the example of Moda Center, home of the Portland Trail Blazers, which achieved an 87% landfill waste diversion rate so far in 2013 and has saved more than $567,000 in costs associated with waste disposal since 2008. Also, the Xcel Energy Center, where the NHL's Minnesota Wild play, implemented a waste management program in 2009, and over 2 years, the facility was able to reduce trash by 65% and increase its annual recycling rate from 15 to 56%. And PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, has increased its waste diversion rate from 28% in 2008 to 65% in 2012.
Bioplastic materials like Ingeo are an important part of the solution, says NatureWorks. Using compostable foodservice ware helps to divert organic waste from landfills to composting facilities, and to improve sustainability. Converters such as Stalkmarket, Eco Products, and World Centric, who produce plates, trays, cups, and utensils made of this bioresin are exhibiting at the summit, providing attendees with the opportunity take a close look at and to ask questions about these products.
The message is clear: the Green Sports Alliance shows sports venues and clubs how to 'get in the game' of sustainable practices. And biodegradable and compostable plastics - like Ingeo - allows them to score.