The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
The Chicago White Sox are the first team in Major League Baseball to ban plastic straws.
Drinks served during games at Guaranteed Rate Field no longer come with the single-use plastic, which pollutes our oceans, lakes and rivers and can cause harm to aquatic creatures. Biodegradable straws are provided upon request.
Major League Soccer (MLS) is scoring a goal against plastic pollution this Earth Day, with help from a unique, eco-friendly product.
All 23 MLS teams playing Earth Day weekend, from Friday, April 20 to Sunday April 22, will wear special Adidas jerseys made from Parley Ocean Plastic™, an Adidas press release announced April 10.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
When it comes to clean energy and sustainability, solar looks to be a shoo-in one day for the “green” Hall of Fame. Today, more and more sports teams, sports leagues and sports organizations are embracing the advantages of solar energy.
At Lincoln Financial Field, the Philadelphia Eagles have 2,500 solar panels installed. Photo credit: NRG Solar
On Monday, the National Hockey League (NHL) released a new sustainability report, saying, in part, “We believe it’s important to invest in clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydro in North America. Supporting clean energy will help achieve long-term benefits for our business, such as price stability.”
The report went on to add: “In addition to pursuing reduction measures, five NHL arenas now supply a portion of their power needs for the facility by using on-site solar power or lower-emission energy sources, such as biogas-fueled fuel cell technology.”
One good example of this growing trend are the Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings, who play at the world-famous, multi-purpose Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Far away from the view of fans, the Staples Center has 1,727 solar panels on its rooftop. Today, this state-of-the-art, 364-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system provides up to 20 percent of the facility's energy needs on a non-game day and a portion of the power it needs when the puck is dropped for the opening faceoff.
Clearly, solar has become a fan favorite. From San Jose to Winnipeg and Tampa Bay to Montreal, communities that embrace professional hockey are embracing solar energy, too. We commend the NHL and Commissioner Gary Bettman for their ongoing commitment to renewable energy and a cleaner environment. They recognize, like so many others, that clean, affordable and reliable solar energy creates thousands of new jobs on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, pumps billions of dollars into our respective countries’ economies and helps to significantly reduce pollution. We’re proud to share our "green team" colors with the NHL and look forward to being part of a winning "power play" that benefits both of our great nations as well as the environment.
But hockey isn’t alone in the solar spotlight. Earlier this month, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS)–home to the greatest racecar event in the world, the Indy 500–installed the largest solar-powered system of any sporting facility in the world. That’s right–the world! IMS boasts a 9.6 megawatt (MW) PV system, employing 39,312 solar modules, bringing new meaning to that famous Brickyard saying: “Start your engines." Clearly, solar is off and running at the Indy 500, lapping all other forms of renewable energy.
Major League Baseball and the National Football League have "drafted" solar systems, too. At Lincoln Financial Field, the Philadelphia Eagles have 2,500 solar panels installed; the San Francisco Giants have 590 solar panels at AT&T Park; the Boston Red Sox are currently heating nearly half of their hot water with solar thermal panels; and the St. Louis Cardinals are producing 32,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of solar energy per year at Busch Stadium.
Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America. But guess what? You can also make a persuasive case that we are actually #1 overall. According to a recently-released report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) natural gas and solar ran 1-2 in new capacity installed in the first half of 2014, with 1,555 MW of natural gas coming online and 1,131 MW of solar. But if you add in the 457 MW of distributed generation solar added (and in the first quarter of this year alone!)–something FERC fails to take into account–solar topped all other forms of energy with at least 1,588 MW of new installed capacity.
So quietly, without anyone really noticing, solar is now leading the energy Super Bowl at halftime. How will the rest of the year turn out? Let’s just say that I like our chances a lot, and I’m betting on the home team!
By Alice Henly
Sports stadiums and arenas, like all large facilities, generate a lot of waste—typically thousands of tons of trash each year. Waste generation in the U.S., including all industrial wastes and municipal solid waste (MSW), totals more than 14 billion tons annually. Unfortunately, the production and management of all that waste directly contributes to global climate disruption as well as other serious environmental issues, including—water pollution, air pollution and harming wildlife habitats.
Only 82 million tons (about 32 percent) of MSW were recycled in 2009, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s biennial report, yet this alone cut GHG emissions by 178 million metric tons, the equivalent of removing 33 million passenger cars from the road for an entire year.
Despite many of the benefits of waste prevention, recycling and composting—protecting biodiversity, saving energy, water, and valuable natural resources such as trees and metal ores; and reducing use of landfills and incinerators and GHG emissions—it’s an ongoing challenge to engage more businesses and people in smarter waste management, one which the Cleveland Indians are taking on in a big way.
Since its inaugural year in 1994, Progressive Field has boasted recycling receptacles for plastic, cardboard and aluminum. However, it wasn’t until late 2007, when the ballpark’s waste hauling contract expired, that the Cleveland Indians began to significantly expand their recycling facilities and establish the ballpark as an industry leader in waste management.
Starting in 2008, Brad Mohr, assistant director of ballpark operations for the Cleveland Indians, established new partnerships with local waste companies and arranged for the separation of the ballpark’s recyclables on site, instead of commingling.
To sort on site, the Indians bought two balers that create 1,200-pound cubes of cardboard and 500-pound ready-for-sale cubes of plastic or aluminum.
“Combining the money we saved from cancelled trash hauls—paying to have waste picked up from the ballpark and sorted—with the money we made from selling the sorted recycled commodities, we paid off the total $30,000 cost of the two balers in six months,” Mohr explains. “That really got people’s attention and gave our environmental work real credibility. The senior staff’s immediate response was ‘Keep going!’”
In three years the Indians have cut their annual waste in half. In 2007 the ballpark generated 1261.6 tons of trash. By 2010 this was down to 613.4 tons. This reduced the number of trash compactor pickups—that cost an average of $500 each—by 64 percent from 254 pickups in 2007 to 92 in 2010, saving the Club $50,000.
Mohr is confident that the Indians will continue to save $50,000 or more annually, relative to 2007 costs, with the ballpark’s improved waste management and recycling system. “That's where we see the financial difference…in recycling, [and] avoiding trash being hauled away,” Mohr says. “Green initiatives are here to stay because they save teams money.”
The Indians’ improved ballpark recycling has also notably created more local jobs while reducing the ballpark’s environmental impact. After every game there is a ballpark “pick” where an average of 30 custodial staff do a sweep of the entire ballpark, picking up and sorting trash from recyclables. In order to increase the recycling rate at the ballpark, Mohr now employs more custodial staff, hiring about eight additional workers each game, to collect recyclables post-game.
The many benefits of the Indians’ improved waste management system—creating jobs, cutting pollution, reducing the ballpark’s environmental impact and saving money—is echoed in a new report by the Tellus Institute that will be launched Nov. 15 at an event hosted by the Indians. The event is taking place at Progressive Field alongside a series of nationwide events.
The national report—More Jobs, Less Pollution—finds that reaching a 75 percent national recycling rate would create nearly 1.5 million more jobs than in 2008. It would also reduce conventional and toxic emissions that impact human and ecosystem health, strengthen the economy by creating a stable local employment base, and reduce CO2 emissions by 276 million metric tons by 2030—equivalent to 72 coal-fired power plants or taking 50 million cars off the road. San Francisco, Austin, Houston, and Washington, D.C. are all celebrating National Recycling Day, Nov. 15, 2011.
More Jobs, Less Pollution was prepared for the BlueGreen Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Service Employees International Union, Recycling Works! and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). It represents the united mission of labor and environmental groups to create a strengthened, more resilient American economy based on green jobs.
“Increasing our recycling rather than dumping trash in landfills will create nearly 1.5 million jobs that are sorely needed, and will benefit the environment,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president. “The Teamsters are interested in creating good, green jobs.”
The Indians’ impressive waste management work, among other green initiatives, provides a strong example for large businesses in Cleveland and statewide for moving towards a stronger green economy.
“The Indians have a wide breadth of activity and efforts in greening and sustainability thanks to the guidance and support of NRDC and NRDC’s unparalleled sports greening resources,” says Mohr. “Our comprehensive recycling program is just the beginning, as we’re also the first American League club to install solar power. And we are trying to add a new green feature each year.”
Get the full scoop on the Indians’ impressive recycling program and savings by reading NRDC’s recently published Smarter Business Case Study. Learn more about the More Jobs, Less Pollution report at NRDC Senior Scientist Allen Hershkowitz’s blog.
For more information, click here.