Tailgating at sports events is almost as big a draw as the game itself, with lots of food, lots of fun—and lots of waste. Large college stadiums, for example, can generate 100 tons of waste per game, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Taking a few simple steps—such as recycling and choosing the right packaging—can reduce that amount significantly. Plastics Make it Possible® offers some tips on how to reduce packaging and food waste on game day and beyond.
"Tailgating doesn't have to result in bags of wasted food and packaging," says Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council (americanchemistry.com), which sponsors the Plastics Make it Possible® initiative. "Choosing lightweight plastic packaging and recycling everything possible can create less waste and divert valuable material from landfills."
Here are some tips for minimizing waste at your next tailgate:
- Airtight: Choose airtight packaging, such as zipper bags, factory-sealed pouches, cling wrap, and reusable storage containers to help keep food fresh and free of contaminants that could cause spoilage, making it less likely that food will need to be thrown out.
- Minimalist: Recent innovations in plastics are leading to new, minimalist packaging designs that help protect food with less material, helping reduce packaging waste. Look for thin, lightweight pouches and packaging for game day foods, from nuts to cheese to deli meats.
- Lightweight: Look for beverages sold in lightweight plastic bottles and containers—they're shatter-resistant which contributes to safety, they typically use less material than alternatives, resulting in less packaging waste, and they're accepted for recycling in most communities.
- Recycling: Place clearly labeled bags or bins at your tailgate to remind everyone to recycle used plastic packaging and other recyclables. More and more everyday plastic food packaging can be recycled in curbside programs, including beverage bottles, ketchup and mustard bottles, containers for sour cream and dip, deli containers, caps and lids, and more. Even plastic bags and wraps—grocery bags, zipper bags, bread and bun bags, wraps for cases of water and soft drinks—can be returned to participating grocery and retail stores for recycling. Visit iwanttoberecycled.org or Earth911.com to find out how to recycle as much as possible in your community.
- Recycled: Finally, seek out products made with recycled plastics. Thanks to increased plastics recycling, it's never been easier to find recycled plastic tailgating essentials such as coolers, serving utensils, plates, cups, and bowls.