Anheuser-Busch is linking up with Major League Baseball and the National Football League to launch what it’s calling the National Recycling League, a promotion to encourage recycling empty beer cans, bottles and cups in stadiums, but also at bars and during home-viewing.
One campaign highlight includes the addition of recycling “hawkers,” a crew of men and women barking to spectators to collect and correctly recycle empties in much the same way that staff hawkers, or vendors, peddle frosty refreshment from the coolers strapped around their necks while moving up and down the stands.
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With the MLB season officially underway last week after a labor-related delay, roughly 10 teams — including the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals — have signed on as inaugural members of the National Recycling League.
Recycling programs continue to be hampered by confusing requirements, even when consumers have the best intentions. Not all plastic is recyclable and not all bins are clearly marked. According to one global study, of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only 9% has been recycled.
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brands include Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra, and because it already has a large toehold in many stadiums, it believes it can use its scale to drive recycling behavior among consumers watching a game in person, at home, or at a neighborhood bar, the company said Tuesday.
For now, recycling hawkers will be volunteers from the Keep America Beautiful nonprofit and will encourage fans to hand over their used beverage vessels to be sorted from the trash and recycled.
Select partner teams will compete head-to-head in recycling their bottles and cans, with the winning city getting a round of beer on Anheuser-Busch. (Here’s more information on that promotion.)
Other efforts include offering infinitely recyclable aluminum cups to fans instead of single-use plastic as aluminum can be recycled over and over again without losing its quality. In-seat recycling decals and in-stadium signage sharing a simple call-to-action with consumers — “Recycle Like a Champion” will also appear.
The mega-brewer joins other efforts within sports to rethink our habits. Yankee Stadium this year will use biodegradable straws and cocktail stirrers made from canola oil that disappear within months in a landfill. Coors
said earlier this year that it will can its plastic six-pack rings for good. And Guinness
is being more mindful about how it grows the barley that flavors its stout. Coca-Cola
meanwhile has made a fresh commitment to reusing bottles not relying on virgin plastic.
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Anheuser-Busch plans to work alongside teams across the National Football League among other league partners to enlist them to participate in the National Recycling League as the 2022 NFL season kicks off at the end of summer.
Anheuser-Busch is a member of the Green Sports Alliance, which has targeted sustainability efforts across all pro sports leagues. By 2025, Anheuser-Busch has committed that 100% of its packaging will be made from majority recycled content or will be returnable.
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The alliance is also meant to target the greenhouse-gas emissions that pro sports spew. According to Waste Management
each year the country’s top 200 stadiums draw more than 180 million visitors, and “the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL generate a combined 35,000 metric tons of CO2 each year from their fans’ waste.”
The U.S. and many other of the world’s wealthiest nations have laid down an ambitious pledge to halve emissions by the end of the decade.