EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Think of the Super Bowl and you think of excess: Big money, big parties, big crowds and a bigger mess left behind.
Well, at least the messy part is getting smaller. Beginning in the 1990s, the NFL has sought to reduce the footprint left behind by the Big Game, and the league is taking steps to make Sunday's Super Bowl the most environmentally friendly yet, from planting trees to offset carbon emissions to composting food waste.
Most of the attention focused on this year's Super Bowl is, understandably, on the challenges of holding it outdoors in the Northeast for the first time. Another, less-celebrated first: MetLife Stadium will compost food waste Sunday, the first time that's happened at a Super Bowl.
It's not new for the stadium. Dave Duernberger, MetLife Stadium's vice president of facilities, said the stadium produced 195 tons of food waste for composting last year, up from 153 tons the year before. Duernberger expects about seven or eight tons to be generated during the Super Bowl, which will go into a giant compactor and then be trucked to a local facility for processing. The end product can be used for landscaping.
Another innovation is the use of biodiesel fuel processed from waste cooking oil. According to Jack Groh, a consultant who directs the NFL's environmental programs, a biodiesel mix will be used in generators that will power Super Bowl Boulevard, the 13-block party on Broadway, as well as generators that are augmenting the power supply on the MetLife Stadium grounds.
Greening the Super Bowl has been a passion project for Groh, who did his first work for the NFL at the 1994 Super Bowl in Atlanta, at a time when the simple recycling of plastic bottles and cans at stadiums was a significant step forward.
After this game, the league will donate several miles of fabric signage to nonprofits or other groups for repurposing. In New Orleans, designers took the fabric and used it to make purses, dresses, shower curtains, beanbag chairs, tote bags and wallets.