News and Notes

Infinitely Recyclable Aluminum Cans at Super Bowl, Green Synchro, New Nike Shoes Cut Waste


We kick off our TGIF News & Notes column with a look at the “infinitely recyclable” aluminum cans that replaced beer cups at Sunday’s Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

Then, synchronized swimming makes its first appearance in GSB as THE Ohio State University greened last month’s home meet with rival Michigan.

Finally we wrap up with Nike’s efforts to use sneaker design as a waste reduction tactic.




Things looked bleak for the Kansas City Chiefs late in Super Bowl LIV last Sunday.

Down 10 points midway through the fourth quarter and facing a daunting 3rd down and 15 yards situation against the heretofore stingy San Francisco 49ers defense, the Chiefs needed a big play if they were to have a realistic chance of making a comeback. Or, as Fox Sports play-by-play announcer Joe Buck said, “Chiefs need some Mahomes magic,” as in quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Jr.

As if on cue, the magical Mahomes dipped into his bag of tricks, uncorking a long, high-arcing pass that nestled softly into receiver Tyreek Hill’s arms for a 44 yard gain.



That play turned the momentum of the game around, spurred Kansas City on to a blazing three-touchdown finish and a 31-20 win. 

Mahomes-to-Hill will no doubt live forever in the hearts and minds of Chiefs fans, not to mention on NFL Films videos.

Another forever thing that came out of Super Bowl LIV was that Centerplate, the exclusive catering partner at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, Ball Corporation and Bud Light partnered to bring Ball’s infinitely (aka forever) recyclable aluminum cups to the big game.

According to a statement from Ball, a leader in cutting-edge, sustainable aluminum beverage packaging, they designed the lightweight aluminum cups in response to “growing fan preferences for more sustainable products.” The company drove home the infinitely recyclable point, saying that “75 percent of the aluminum ever produced is still in use today.”

“We’re proud to team up with Centerplate and Bud Light to bring fans at Hard Rock Stadium improved, sustainable hospitality with our game-changing and infinitely recyclable aluminum cup,” John A. Hayes, Ball’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement prior to the game. “We developed the aluminum cup to ensure it meets growing demand for more green products, and we’re excited that our partnership will give this year’s Super Bowl fans the opportunity to do better by the environment.”

During the Super Bowl, 50,000 20-ounce cups were made available throughout Hard Rock Stadium’s clubs, suites and general concourse areas. And that’s just the beginning. An estimated 500,000 cups will be distributed annually at Miami Dolphins and University of Miami college football games, international soccer matches, and more. This will help the venue achieve its mission to phase out 99.4 percent of single-use plastics this year.


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The infinitely recyclable aluminum cup from Ball Corporation, Bud Light and Centerplate that will be distributed at Sunday's Super Bowl LIV in Miami (Photo credit: Matthew Noel)


As for Bud Light, the presenting sponsor of the Super Bowl LIV cups, their involvement in the shift to aluminum cups helps the brand support corporate parent Anheuser-Busch’s ambitious 2025 sustainability goals.


GSB’s Take: Good move by Ball, Bud Light and Centerplate to go with infinitely recyclable aluminum cups at Super Bowl LIV. Will other venues go this route? And will Budweiser, Michelob, and other Anheuser-Busch brands follow Bud Light’s lead on aluminum cups? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Watch this space.




The Ohio State synchronized swimming team’s home meet with Michigan last month was a big deal for three reasons. It was the:

  1. Season opener for the Buckeyes as they look to defend their 2019 NCAA championship;
  2. Latest edition of one of the most storied rivalries in college sports
  3. Fourth annual Zero Waste Invitational hosted by the OSU synchro squad

This is another step in the green direction, not only for Ohio State Athletics but also for the university as a hole as it works to achieve campus-wide zero waste by 2025. With that in mind, the synchronized swimming program has committed to make all 2020 home events meet the zero waste standard.


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Ohio State's synchronized swimming team gets ready for their Zero Waste Invitational meet against rival Michigan (Photo credit: Ohio State Athletics)


The Buckeyes’ synchronized swimming team works closely with Cassidy Jenney, a sustainability associate in the Office of Athletics and Business Advancement.

“The Zero Waste Invitational is an important step towards the University’s sustainability goal of becoming zero waste by 2025,” Jenney told the Ohio State Athletics website . “This means we’re looking to divert over 90 percent of waste away from the landfill to create a cleaner community where we live and play.”


GSB’s Take: Ohio State, a leader in collegiate Green-Sports, is most well known for its zero waste football games at Ohio Stadium, the horseshoe-shaped venue that draws over 100,000 fans every game.

It’s great to see that the Green-Sports mindset is percolating throughout the Athletics Department to include synchro swimming and more.



Making a sneaker typically involves cutting sheets of leather or other fabric into pieces that can be sewn together — and ending up with a big pile of scraps on the floor that end up decomposing in the landfill, emitting greenhouse gases in the process.

Nike’s new 90s-era Atsuma reduces waste by rethinking the shape and size of the fabric patterns. “The team experimented with patterns to see if we could make cutouts fit together like a puzzle,” Noel Kinder, chief sustainability officer at Nike, said to Adele Peters, writing in the January 22 edition of Fast Company.


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Nike's new Atsuma sneaker (Photo credit: Nike)


More Peters: “When the company’s iconic swoosh logo is cut out for one side of a shoe, the piece that’s left becomes part of the design on the other side. Another piece of fabric is split in half with a wavy line; each piece becomes the ‘heel counter,’ the leather that wraps around the back of the shoe. A small shape cut out as part of the eyestay, the part of the shoe that holds the laces, creates a corresponding design used on the side.” And so on…


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When Nike's swoosh logo is cut out for one side of an Atsuma sneaker, the piece that’s left becomes part of the design on the other side (Photo credit: Nike)


“Our designer manifested the concept of ‘negative space,’” Kinder told Peters. “Whenever cutting a shape, we tried to find a way to use both the shape and the material it was cleaved from . . . The team wanted to be sure this concept of negative space was obvious to the consumer, so they colored the product so that it was easy to see what we were doing.”

Atsuma took Nike’s green baton from Flyknit, the knit technology first used in the company’s shoes in 2012 as the latter’s manufacturing process creates 60 percent less scrap waste than a shoe upper normally would. “Inspired by Flyknit, the design team thought about how to treat the materials used in traditional footwear, like synthetic leather, as one singular piece,” says Kinder. “We’re constantly exploring ways to eliminate waste.”




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