In my first visit to Chicago's Wrigley Field a few years back I was struck by both the friendliness of the Cubs fans and the enthusiasm with which they drank beer -- although the two might be one in the same. Now, instead of all those plastic cups ending up in the landfill, a good chunk of them will be recycled, thanks to a new program at the nation's second-oldest Major League Baseball stadium.
The Cubs have partnered with Solo Cup Company, Allied Waste, Free Green Can and Levy Restaurants to introduce the new "Real Fans Recycle" program at Wrigley Field. Fans can now recycle all of their plastic cups in specially-marked bins throughout the park.
The new recycling program will also extend beyond the 'Friendly Confines,' with 25 dual-purpose (recycling/trash) recycling cans now installed surrounding Wrigley Field, providing year-round public recycling opportunities for Cubs fans and residents of the Wrigleyville neighborhood. The Free Green Can will accept recycle glass, plastic, paper and aluminum at one station.
In addition to the 'glassware' that will be a little bit greener at Wrigley, fans will also be using 100 percent recycled napkins, compostable plates and cutlery.
"This can be a model for what other sports venues across the country can achieve," said Kim Frankovich, vice president of sustainability, Solo Cup Company. "Cubs fans can help us make this program a success by putting their plastic cups and bottles in the recycling bins separate from other trash."
In total, the Chicago Cubs and its fans are expected to divert roughly 165,000 pounds of cardboard and plastic material from the waste stream annually, saving an estimated 2,180 cubic yards of landfill space.
Once recycled, the plastic cups will be used to make plastic lumber for picnic tables and park benches, carpet fibers, clothing, automotive parts, paint brushes and, of course, more plastic cups.