MILWAUKEE — As of mid-March, the start of the Major League Baseball season was unknown as coronavirus had thrown normal American life off kilter.
But whenever the season does begin, SC Johnson and the Milwaukee Brewers will be on the same team. Earlier this year, SCJ and the Brewers jointly announced a new partnership at Miller Park, where SCJ will have the stadium’s used plastic cups collected and recycled to make Scrubbing Bubbles bottles.
SCJ Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson made the announcement in January with Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers’ president of business operations, and Brewers pitchers Brent Suter and Corey Knebel.
Johnson said afterward that as far as he knows, his is the first company to agree to take and recycle plastic from a U.S. professional sports venue.
Last year, Johnson said, the Brewers handled more than 1.3 million plastic cups at the stadium.
“We are thrilled to add this initiative to one of many projects our company is worked on to reduce plastic waste around the world,” Johnson previously said. “As many great attributes as plastic has, our planet is facing a plastic-waste crisis.” He cited numerous facts about the extent and dangers of the plastic crisis.
Several steps involved
Every fan who drinks a beverage at Miller Park can become a small part of the solution, Schlesinger noted.
Fans will deposit their used cups in special, marked containers. It will be picked up by Town of Norway-based John’s Disposal, transported to Placon in Madison, where it will be cleaned and flaked.
Those flakes will be transported to Verdeco Recycling in Terra Haute, Ind., where it will be processed into pellets that can be blow-molded. It will be made by Logoplaste, one of SCJ’s bottle suppliers, into Scrubbing Bubbles bottles that will be filled at Waxdale.
Johnson said the Brewers approached SCJ about working together — not the other way around.
“They’ve seen a lot of the work that we’ve done on plastic waste, and they thought that this was a good partnership,” he said. “And the moment they came to us, we thought, ‘Oh my God, this is fantastic.’” They had discussions over the past few months to come up with a plan, he said.
“We’re starting with the cups, and we’re going to look at other forms of stadium waste as well, and see what we can do to partner on that.”
Three major benefits
Johnson identified what are, to him, the three “huge benefits” of the new partnership with the Brewers:
- It helps to close the recycling loop.
- It will help bring attention to the plastic pollution crisis.
- It may motivate other companies and stadiums to former similar partnerships.
In addition to taking the plastic cups, for each save recorded by a Brewers pitcher, SCJ and the Brewers will make a donation to the Players for the Planet initiative, which works to reduce ocean plastic, and of which Suter is a key participant.
SCJ and the Brewers said they will also organize beach cleanups with players and fans and provide educational programming on ocean and plastic.