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Sunday, September 19, 2021

A Partnership for Change

Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and Real Mallorca Partner with Valley-based company, Footprint, to create Zero Waste Arena.

Sports arenas in the U.S. produce an estimated 39 million pounds of trash every single year. But as organizations like the Green Sports Alliance and venues such as Barclay’s Center in New York and the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle pave the way for zero waste, carbon-neutral sports facilities, more have started to follow.  

Now, Phoenix, Arizona—the fifth-largest city in the U.S.—is making strides with the recent partnership between the materials science company, Footprint, and the Phoenix Suns. The goal: making the arena carbon-neutral while educating consumers about sustainability. 

The event center currently runs on solar energy. In the past year, it has installed LED lighting and energy-efficient mechanical systems with economizers, and now it even features recycled materials throughout. With the start of the new basketball season this October, patrons can expect to see even more sustainable transitions: these include compost and recycling bins as well as plant-based biodegradable plates, utensils and coolers designed by the new partner company Footprint.

Former Intel engineers Troy Swope and Yoke Chung co-founded Footprint in Gilbert, Arizona, with the goal of eliminating single-use plastic. They have worked together to create plastic packaging alternatives that are compostable, sustainable and biodegradable. 

“In the next five years, you’re going to walk through a grocery store, and it’s going to be completely plastic-free,” says Swope. 

Footprint’s goal is to make sure that their products are in every grocery store across the U.S. Everything from microwavable dinner bowls, meat trays, cups, six-pack rings and coolers are produced with their plant-based fiber technology. 

Additionally, Footprint plans to work with the Phoenix Suns to explore other ways they can leverage half-time shows during games to not only entertain fans but also educate them about sustainability.

“There will be giant LED screens where we can educate consumers about the impact of plastics on the environment,” says Footprint Senior Vice President of Communications, Heather Knox. “This will be a place where people can go to find out more about our solutions and then take steps at home. We want to educate them on what they can do locally and how they can play a role in making an impact in the community.”

And this partnership couldn’t have come at a better time—following the close of an exciting season for the Suns with the team making it to the NBA playoffs for the first time in over a decade. 

“This was a really bold and courageous move on the part of the Phoenix Suns,” Knox says. “The fact that they are willing to truly embrace this transformation is really exciting. This is the start of a movement here locally and is a huge opportunity for people in the Valley to be thoughtful about what they can do to create a healthier planet.” 

For more information, visit www.footprintus.com.

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