The University of Colorado Boulder deserves a pat on the back—and not just because the Buffs recently took down rival teams, Colorado State University and the University of Nebraska. Earlier this month, in partnership with Broomfield-based Ball Corporation, CU introduced a sustainability initiative that will make beer drinking feel a little more guilt free.
Now, instead of traditional plastic cups, visitors at Folsom Field will find “infinitely recyclable” 20 oz. aluminum cups emblazoned with the school’s logo. Ball, the world’s largest seller of aluminum cans, has been perfecting the cup for seven years and teamed up with CU to debut the product at the game against the Huskers on September 7. Not only will the lightweight aluminum cups keep your sudsy beverage cooler, it also encourages beer drinkers to recycle.
Ball will continue to sell this eco-friendly option to other major sports venues and concessionaires throughout 2020, and has plans to invest in a future plant that will produce multiple sizes of the cup. Although the product is a bit pricier than its predecessor, at 25 cents a cup, the cost of beer at Folsom Field is not going up.
“I think just knowing that you drink out of a cup, throw it in the recycle bin, and it can be back as a new cup in 60 days is something that people are really excited about,” says Renee Robinson, Ball communications representative. “Knowing that it’s not going to end up in a landfill or in the ocean is important. Folks here take a lot of pride in making more sustainable choices.”
CU, which in 2008 became the first athletics department for a NCAA Division I school to debut a sustainability program, has created process in which the recycled aluminum will be returned to Ball after every game to be re-used for future cups, hence the term “infinitely recyclable.” Once Ball expands production, the goal is for all sports venues on the Boulder campus to be plastic-free by the fall of 2020, replacing all plastic soda, beer, cocktail, and wine cups with the aluminum option.
“CU greatly values sustainability,” says Ryan Huff, CU’s chief spokesperson. “We have, not only in our stadium but also throughout campus, very much put a value on recycling, composting, solar energy, and LEED certified buildings—really all the important steps you need to take to be a sustainable campus. So, this just made perfect sense to be a partner with Ball. We want to be sustainable, and we also want other people to see what we’re doing and lead sustainable lives.”
Ball’s research states that 67 percent of U.S. consumers say they will visit a venue more often if they use aluminum cups instead of plastic, and that 78 percent of consumers expect beverage brands to use environmentally friendly containers in the next five years. Even companies such as Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo are experimenting with selling Dasani and Aquafina brands of bottled water in aluminum amid plastic pollution backlash.
After this limited pilot run with venues and concessionaires, Ball cups will be available starting in 2021 at retail stores, bars, and restaurants across the U.S. so all consumers—no matter your college team—can play a part in reducing plastic use and creating a more sustainable future.