What better way to reach the public about the benefits of plastics and recycling than through a partnership between the 2018 Super Bowl champions and the world’s leading biopolymer producer? The Philadelphia Eagles have announced that Braskem (Philadelphia), the largest polypropylene producer in the Americas, will join the organization as a partner in recycling.
Braskem has entered into a nine-year sustainability-focused partnership with the Eagles, building on the team’s long-standing commitment to environmental and community development programs such as its Go Green! initiative. The partnership includes the development of a closed-loop recycling program for bottle caps, called Cap-etition—a competition among 30 middle schools in the Philadelphia area to collect bottle caps and turn them into feedstock for 3D printers to make new parts, explained Mark Nikolich, CEO, Braskem America, in an interview with PlasticsToday.
“Closing the loop with new technology will get people interested in 3D printing, and layer in the sustainability factor using plastics,” said Nikolich. “By incorporating multiple components into this program we give it more positive energy around recycling.”
The recycling program for bottle caps and other plastic products also informs an online education initiative to teach students about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career opportunities.
Braskem operates in the chemical and petrochemical industry and plays a significant role in other production chains that are essential to economic development and creating sustainable solutions that improve people’s lives in areas such as housing, food and transportation.
Nikolich concurred that the partnership with the Eagles will lend not only greater visibility on the sustainability of plastic and the challenges of recycling waste, but will be a great way to educate people.
“Part of the solid waste issue and society’s challenge to that is an educational issue,” said Nikolich. “Just because [people] pay a small sum of money to have their trash picked up at their curb doesn’t mean it’s disposed of in a sustainable way. We have too much land mass in the U.S. and the waste disposal of choice is landfills. People don’t make conscious decisions about what they do with their waste.”
Braskem believes that plastics are a sustainable solution for society as a way to reduce the carbon footprint, and that it can deliver sustainable solutions. “We believe strongly in that, and actively participating in partnerships like this, which involves recycle and reuse, shows our commitment,” said Nikolich. “We’ve combined our knowledge of plastics with a format that includes STEM education with a very relevant partner—the Eagles. The combination of those things and the waste around sports complexes is a great opportunity to show how we can be more sustainable as a society.
“Education about sustainability and a closed-loop economy in this partnership is an example of how we can reclaim plastics used in the Eagles venue [Lincoln Financial Field] and reuse them to produce products that will go back to the stadium,” he added. “If I take my cup or bottle cap to be recycled, then see applications where those have become drink cup holders, signage or recycle bins, all made from the recyclate that I once disposed of, I really start to understand what the circular economy is all about.”
The Eagles’ Go Green! program has been nationally recognized for its commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly measures. What started out with blue recycling bins under each employee’s desk in 2003 has turned into a company-wide sustainability program that is diverting more than 99% of waste from landfills and operating on 100% clean energy. In June 2018, the Eagles became the first professional sports team to receive ISO 20121 certification, which is an international standard designed to help organizations integrate sustainability into management practices and processes.
Braskem’s vision for the Eagles’ partnership is to create multiple eco-friendly solutions for communities throughout the greater Philadelphia area. They will work closely on developing and fostering recycling innovations similar to what they are doing at Lincoln Financial Field. The collection and recycling process will be highlighted at an interactive fan zone located on Lincoln Financial Field’s HeadHouse Plaza.