First-ever compostable peanut bag at Super Bowl could be game changer for snack packaging

Aramark compostable peanut packagingFootball season may be just about to draw to a close with Super Bowl LII being played this weekend, but one breakthrough product is just getting started. Introduced at the Nov. 26 game last year at Arrowhead Stadium, home to the Kansas City Chiefs, the compostable peanut bag was sold throughout general concessions and in-seat vending, with the goal of expanding to other areas of Arrowhead Stadium following the pilot phase.

The compostable peanut bag is part of the Chiefs’ environmental initiative, “Extra Yard for the Environment,” which is designed to devise and implement new green policies while also raising awareness for sustainability efforts at Arrowhead Stadium.

Several companies were involved with this project, which took about 18 months to come to fruition, including Aramark, a large snack-vending company. The Chiefs approached Aramark, the team’s general concessionaire, about finding ways to further advance Arrowhead’s sustainability initiatives. According to Aramark, more than 15,000 bags of peanuts are sold in concessions at Arrowhead Stadium each year. Philadelphia-based Aramark sells more than 1.1 million bags of peanuts annually at sporting events.

“With peanuts among the best-selling snack foods at sports events, the introduction of this compostable peanut bag is a potential game-changer,” said Carl Mittleman, President of Aramark’s Sports and Entertainment division. “As a partner of the Chiefs and a food and beverage services industry leader, we’re proud to be at the forefront of driving innovative solutions that decrease our environmental impact and enhance the game-day experience.”

Aramark approached German chemicals company BASF, which has its U.S. headquarters in Florham Park, NJ, to draw up a game plan to divert peanut bags from landfill. Working with Hampton Farms, the in-shell peanut producer headquartered in Severn, NC, Aramark brought together the entire supply chain, from the packaging developer, BASF, to Missouri Organic, a Kansas City area composter.

For the past five years, Missouri Organic has handled all of the food waste from Arrowhead Stadium, so when BASF and the Chiefs came to it with this project, the company agreed to be part of the testing and development of the new compostable peanut bag.

Kevin Anderson, one of the owners of Missouri Organic, told PlasticsToday that some attempts had been tried previously to develop a peanut bag with the Mariners; however, BASF had issues with the bags not sealing properly and the peanuts going stale. “The first round didn’t compost very well,” Anderson explained. “We all had issues with that first round of bags, so a different formula had to be created so both layers of the bag would compost. In April or May last year we completely composted the bags with no residual material left in the process. After another test round we got our first bags around the first of November and we’ve been seeing those compost consistently since with no issues.”

Anderson said that one of the problems with getting consumers involved in composting is that there’s a lot of confusion surrounding the process. “Even recycling is confusing,” he added. “Not everything is 100% compostable and consumers throw biodegradable stuff in with the composting material. They don’t know what can and can’t be composted.”

Paul Kearns, Business Development Manager for BASF, said in a press release from the company that BASF “welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate to snack producers and users of flexible packaging that composting is a viable waste-reduction strategy.”

So, tune in this Sunday to Super Bowl LII, which will mark the first-ever Super Bowl to sell a pre-packed compostable peanut bag, said a release from Aramark, the company that also debuted the bag in November at Arrowhead Stadium. It will be part of U.S. Bank Stadium’s efforts to recover more than 90% —or more than 40 tons—of stadium waste at the game in a program they call Rush2Recycle.

In fact, to reference our survey, you might be a plastics engineer if you watch a football game in hopes of catching a glimpse of a compostable peanut bag! You can read about the survey, and participate, by going here.

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