Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
Opportunities to recycle at stadiums exist both inside the venue and outside in the parking lots. Plastic and aluminum beverage containers are the most common recyclables generated by fans while tailgating, and these materials may be collected either separately or mixed together. Cardboard is another recyclable generated in high volumes at stadiums, primarily by concessionaires. As the cost of trash disposal continues to increase, recycling can be a financially attractive optionparticularly with cardboard.
- Target Areas
- Success Stories
- Tools & Resources
Concessionaires can be a key partner in facilitating recycling. Most stadiums do not allow patrons to bring in consumables from the outside, so concessionaires can control most of the waste that is generated. Many concessionaires discard tons of corrugated cardboard, one of the easiest products to recycle. Work with concessionaires to use packaging that cuts down on waste and is conducive to recycling.
- Encourage concessionaires to collect corrugated cardboard.
- Instruct either concessionaires or janitorial staff to bring corrugated cardboard to a compactor.
- Refer to our Concessionaires & Vendors page to learn how to involve these valuable partners.
Parking Lots and Tailgating
Remember that tailgaters generate large amounts of waste and even larger amounts of bottles and cans. Target these areas to collect tailgaters and fans recyclables.
- Pass out collection bags to stadium attendees as cars enter the parking lot. Ask attendees to collect their own recyclables in the bags and then leave the bags in the parking lot. Collect the bags after the game and transfer the materials to a mixed recycling bin.
- Place recycling bins next to each trash can in the parking lot and at stadium entrances and exits. (Qualcomm Stadium (PDF) (6 pp, 636K, about PDF) in San Diego uses this method successfully.)
Post-Event Stadium Bleachers
A majority of food and beverages are consumed by patrons in the seating area, and most of the packaging and containers are left behind once the game or event is over. Although a post-event pickup of recyclables from the seating area can be labor intensive, it is one of the most efficient ways to recover recyclable materials.
- Instruct janitorial staff to conduct two separate picks after the game or eventone for recyclables and one for trash.
- Enlist volunteers to collect the recyclable materials after a game or event.
Hallways, Restrooms, and Other Public Areas
Because it may not be feasible or desirable to place recycling bins in seating areas, stadiums should position bins in the concourse areas, in hallways, and near restrooms to make it convenient for fans to drop their recyclables off as they are moving about within the stadium.
- Place recycling bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans in all public areas.
- Place recycling bins beside trash receptacles to make it easy for fans to recycle.
Education and promotion are crucial to encourage public participation in recycling.
- Educate fans and visitors about what materials are recyclable and where the bins are located.
- Advertise the location of recycling bins and the importance of using them through printed programs, over the loudspeaker, and on the big screen.
- MLB has emerged as as a powerful leader in the global green movement. See how several teams are going green.
- The Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field, the second ballpark in the US to compost food waste, saved more than $26,000 in disposal costs in 2006. In 2007, they added food and yard waste, as well as glass from the luxury suites and metal food containers. In celebration of Earth Day, the Seattle Mariners joined with Cedar Grove Composting to stage the first carbon-neutral game in Major League Baseball history.
- The Phillies have begun recycling cardboard, paper, beverage containers, fluorescent lamps, lighting ballasts, frying oils and other items, conserving energy and have joined EPAs Green Power Partnership
- The Oakland Athletics save approximately $40,000 a year in disposal costs due to their recycling and composting program.
- EPA and New York Mets Agree on Environmental Goals for Citi Field. The builder of New York Mets new ballpark, the Queens Ballpark Company, and EPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which spells out design, construction and operational principles ensuring that Citi Field meets high environmental standards and reduces its carbon footprint.
- "Our Tribe is green, are you in the Tribe?" The Cleveland Indians are installing recycling bins for beverages throughout Progressive Field and will continue to recycle all paper and cardboard products and use recycled paper. The Indians environmental leadership was demonstrated earlier by the installation of 42 GE solar panels in the upper deck of the stadium.
- Astros going earth friendly in 2008 . The Houston Astros are launching an Astros Play Green campaign involving recycling bins throughout the stadium, use of recycled paper, and many other initiatives.
- Red Sox Green Team . The Boston Red Sox go green with recycling and plans for solar power at Fenway Park.
- Recycling at Penn States Beaver Stadium (PDF) (5 pp, 360K, about PDF)
- University of Tennessee, Neyland Stadiums Recycling Program (PDF) (6 pp, 876K, about PDF)
- Qualcomm Stadiums Recycling Program (PDF) (6 pp, 636K, about PDF)
- The University of Washingtons Go Purple, Be Gold and Green (PDF) (3 pp, 299K, about PDF) announces the athletic departments new recycling and waste diversion initiatives.
- Pro Bowl  Scores Recycling Touchdown
- The Philadelphia Eagles promote recycling and other sustainable efforts and encourage their fans to adopt sustainable practices.
- The Houston Texans new recycling initiative encourages fans, team members and employees to recycle. Recycling bins will be set up throughout the stadium, including the Texans front office, locker room, weight room and cafeteria.
- The St. Louis Rams announce program with Waste Management to launch Green Platform , ranging from offering recycling to fans to exploring alternative energy.
- The New York Jets have partnered with Rock and Wrap it Up! , a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to feed all those who hunger using safely recovered edible leftover food from arenas where major concerts and sporting events occur.
- The Arizona Cardinals Recycling Program (scroll down the A-Z guide to recycling) at the University of Phoenix Stadium provides bags for recycling to tailgaters, recycling bins on the Great Lawn and security checkpoint locations, as well as recycling bins inside the stadium.
- HP Pavilion at San Jose/Shark Tank: An Arena Recycling Success.
- The Nets Shoot to be Green . The Nets are developing a comprehensive plan to reduce environmental impact and are targeting to become first NBA team to be carbon neutral.
- Local and state governments can promote recycling at little league games. For example, the Arizona Department of Environmental Qualitys Little League Recycling and Litter Control Project provides banners promoting recycling and bins for recyclables to Little League teams. They also will provide funding for placement and maintenance of the banners and containers for up to three fields.
Tools & Resources
- Use the Stadium Recycling Guide for direction on setting up a recycling program at a stadium.
- Visit the How to Set up a Recycling Program page for information on setting up a recycling program at a stadium.
- CA Department of Resources Recycling and Recoverys (CalRecycles) Venues and Events: Reducing Waste
- Rock and Wrap it Up! works with sports teams to help fight hunger in their teams community by clubhouse and stadium food recovery.
- The NRDC Greening Advisor The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has developed a web-based tool featuring advice on sustainable stadium operations and team pratices, as well as information on local resources available to Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. Although developed specifically for MLB, the information is applicable to other sports teams.
- Venue Recycling in the USA identifies seven venue and event categories and estimates the potential volume of recyclable containers generated within each of these categories, and cumulatively. The report provides six guiding principles shared by all successful recycling models, as well as common on-site recycling opportunities. It provides programmatic detail in the form of successful recycling models for each of the identified venue and event categories and two active program examples for each category.
- Named after their buffalo mascot, Ralphies Green Stampede is the University of Colorados ambitious effort to reuse, recycle, or compost valuable materials, thereby reducing the environmental impact of home games. A combination of CUs internal commitment, strong vendor involvement, and effective outreach and external relations are setting a new standard in sustainable stadiums. Waste reduction measures will continue to shrink total materials use while packaging chosen for recyclability and compostability will dramatically increase diversion.