At Major League Baseball games, fans don’t need to leave their seats to get an ice-cold beer. Now, they don’t need to leave their seats to recycle, either.
Anheuser Busch announced a partnership with Major League Baseball – and soon, the National Football League – to have a crew of volunteer “hawkers” march the steps of stadiums to collect empty containers and recycle them, right alongside the men and women who sell water, beer, and peanuts in the crowd. The volunteer program is being coordinated by Keep America Beautiful.
The hawkers will ensure that every beverage container – including water bottles, cups, and cans – is properly recycled. The program is set to launch in 10 Major League stadiums this year, including in San Diego, Texas, St. Louis, and Washington D.C.
While it may seem like a small effort to boost recycling, stadiums are a major source of waste. Each year, the top 200 stadiums in the country alone attract 180 million fans. According to one estimate, 14.6 million beers are sold alone during Major League Baseball games. And that doesn’t even count the sodas, waters, and other mixed drinks.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 34 percent of aluminum and 29 percent of PET plastic (the #1 plastic used in clear bottles) is recycled. Polling conducted by the Campaign for Recycling Awareness has shown that convenience is a major factor in whether an individual will choose to recycle a product.
Making recycling as convenient as buying a beer will certainly boost recycling rates in the stadiums. Additionally, having knowledgeable volunteers who know which items can and can’t be recycled will ensure that everything they collect can actually be recycled.
America’s recycling system is needlessly confusing. Items that cannot typically be recycled, such as polystyrene foam, have the same chasing arrows recycling symbol as a soda bottle, which can be recycled everywhere. The only difference is the tiny number etched inside the logo.
Recycling programs throughout the country should take a page out of Anheuser Busch’s playbook and find ways to make recycling as convenient and simple as possible.