Recycle Our Peanuts and Cracker Jack

Every summer, millions of baseball fans gear up for a season of cold beer, sodas, hot dogs, peanuts and baseball. The amount of trash accumulated during baseball season can be astronomical. So some Major League Baseball teams have begun to combat the growing amounts of trash with winning recycling programs.

The Milwaukee Brewers began its 2001 season in a new stadium, Miller Park, and with a new recycling program. Traditionally, stadiums recycle office paper, aluminum cans and cardboard. But when the Milwaukee based-Miller Brewing Co. introduced beer in plastic bottles for the new season, the company wanted to help the community and the environment, so it began the recycling program at Miller Park. Along with the Miller Brewing Co., the Charlotte, N.C.-based National Association for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) Container Resources (NAPCOR), Milwaukee-based Performance Clean and Milwaukee-based The Peltz Group, the Brewers began a concerted recycling program that made them one of the pioneers in venue recycling, says Tim Warren, NAPCOR's central regional director. “It's definitely been a positive experience,” he says. The Brewers successfully recycled more than 35.25 tons of PET in the 2001 season and 25.49 tons in 2002.

The Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins have created similar recycling programs. Other major event arenas, such as football and concert venues and NASCAR sites, are looking to mimic baseball's recycling successes. “The word is catching on,” says Paul Broadhead general manager of Performance Clean, which physically handles cleanup at Miller Park. “There is the economics of saving money, public relations for the team, community involvement and [the idea] that recycling is just the right thing to do,” Warren adds.

Players, as well as fans, are doing their part, too. Recycling containers are placed throughout the stadium and in the clubhouses. According to a NAPCOR report, 64,140 pounds of recycled plastic originated in Miller Park during the 2001 season. It's very easy for fans to help out because they are encouraged to leave empty containers in the stands rather than tracking down a recycle bin. Crews comb the seats after games, picking up bottles.

Yet not all major league stadiums have recycling programs because “it's a cumbersome process, and all of the different containers take up a lot of space,” Broadhead says. People are becoming more aware of [recycling,] but most facilities are not set up to recycle and they don't, Broadhead adds.