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A Play-By-Play of Super Bowl LI’s Waste Diversion Efforts

Approximately 150 new recycling bins were placed throughout NRG Stadium, and about a dozen local agencies helped capture unserved, surplus food from the stadium.

Millions of sports fans (and entertainment fans) tuned in to watch Super Bowl LI yesterday, which concluded with the New England Patriots victory over the Atlanta Falcons in a first-ever Super Bowl overtime. And while those fans were busy munching on tasty snacks, drinking refreshing beverages, cheering on their team and catching up with friends and family, the NFL and the staff at NRG Stadium in Houston were working to divert as much waste from landfill as possible. 

In preparation for the big game, approximately 150 new recycling bins were placed throughout NRG Stadium, and about a dozen local agencies were recruited by the Houston Food Bank to help capture unserved, surplus food from the stadium.

Additionally, NRG Energy Inc. and its subsidiary Reliant partnered with the NFL to provide 100 percent Green-e certified renewable energy to NRG Stadium for a certain time period before, during and after the big game.

“As the official electricity company of NRG Stadium, we are proud to support the NFL and Houston by powering the largest U.S. sporting event with renewable energy certificates together with the onsite efficiency and renewable energy solutions,” said NRG Vice President of Sustainability Bruno Sarda in a statement. “At NRG, we want fans to benefit from sustainable solutions and together with the NFL, we can demonstrate that even a huge event like the Super Bowl can significantly reduce its energy usage.”

These sustainable efforts by NRG and its partners go hand-in-hand with its everyday goals to divert more material from landfill and to make its venues more sustainable.

In 2013, NRG reviewed the amount of materials it was currently recycling and developed new initiatives to help boost its recycling rate. NRG set a goal to recycle 15 percent of its waste in 2014, and it exceeded its expectations by achieving a recycling rate of 17 percent. NRG then set a goal to recycle 20 percent of its waste in 2015, but its recycling rate held steady at 17 percent that year. 

NRG has a recycling and waste team and waste subject-matter experts who work with local and state governments and other industrial waste generators to ensure that waste generation and disposal concerns at all of its locations are understood and properly addressed. NRG also has a sourcing team that creates partnerships with waste management and recycling companies to ensure that waste and recycling materials end up in their proper destinations. 

Leading up to the big game, the NFL and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee hosted a variety of environmental-themed events, including a public E-Waste Recycling Rally and the Super Kids – Super Sharing Sports Equipment and Book Donation Event.

At the e-waste recycling rally on January 21, local residents dropped off e-waste items like computers, printers, monitors, cell phones and televisions for safe and proper disposal. And at the Super Kids event on January 19, tens of thousands of books, school supplies, games and sports equipment were collected and donated to low-income schools and youth programs, and unused cell phones and accessories were collected and donated to U.S.-based domestic violence organizations. 

Immediately after the Super Bowl, recovery of event materials began and will continue throughout the next week with a drive to collect and donate items left over from the Super Bowl, including building materials, decor, fabric, carpeting and signage. 

This article will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

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