How to Reduce Waste in Stadium Concessions
Waste Reduction Strategies for Stadium Concessions
We all know waste is a problem in stadium concessions, both for the environment and for the bottom line. It can be difficult to set aside the time to think about waste reduction in your business, but it’s extremely beneficial to create a strategy that is feasible for you. What follows are a few ideas you may not have considered that can make a significant impact on the amount of waste generated by your concession stands.
- Rethink your water sales. While the markup on bottled water can be tempting, you can garner the respect of your customers by not charging high prices for what they can access at the water fountain. Instead of sending hundreds of plastic bottles to the landfill, allow and encourage reusable bottles at your concession stands. Sell souvenir bottles that are higher quality than ordinary souvenir cups, such as popular insulated Swell bottles, branded with your team’s logo. Offer free or drastically reduced refills on water with the purchase of the branded bottle, and emphasize other specialty drinks instead such as lemonade and frozen drinks.
- Switch to self-serve and upon request. Napkins often end up in the trash unused, and straws last only until one soda is consumed. Instead of automatically handing these items out, place a dispenser within easy reach so customers can take as many, or as few, napkins as they need. Offer straws and lids only if specifically asked for, or consider eliminating them from your inventory altogether. Customers may be surprised at first, but they will quickly adjust to your new policy.
- Donate unused stadium food. This may seem complicated, especially if there are strict regulations at your venue or in your city. But it’s not impossible, and customers will be pleased to learn your business helps your community. Start by contacting local food banks or soup kitchens to see if they offer free pickup of unused items. Check out this example of a successful donation program. If feeding people is not an option for you, excess food still doesn’t have to go to waste. Some zoos and farms use food scraps for animal feed or compost. Find more ideas from the EPA.
- Make your menu more sustainable – and affordable. A simple swap of most beef items to chicken and vegetables can make a big difference. The beef production and preparation industries contribute to high amounts of greenhouse emissions, so removing these meats from your menu can help. Beef is also often among the most expensive meats, so cutting back will save some money as well. Of course, use your best judgment in this case: ballpark food naturally includes hot dogs, but if you offer less traditional items like fajitas, you could leave out the steak option and sell only chicken or veggie varieties.
These are just a few ways you can reduce waste generated by your concession stands. To take your environmental efforts even farther, try sourcing locally as much as possible to reduce fossil fuel used when shipping produce. And look into switching your serving ware to recyclable and biodegradable products rather than plastics.
No matter what efforts you decide on, be sure to publicize them. Many consumers are environmentally conscious and will appreciate knowing which steps you’ve taken to make a difference.