Brewers, SC Johnson teaming up to reduce plastic waste

September 14th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- What began as an effort to keep millions of plastic cups from winding up in a landfill has grown into a whole slate of efforts to make American Family Field one of MLB’s greenest ballparks.

In 2020, Brewers pitcher, Clemente Award nominee and resident environmentalist Brent Suter helped the Brewers launch a partnership with Racine, Wis.-based SC Johnson to recycle the plastic cups used by fans at the stadium -- the total was 1.3 million the year before the program launched -- into bottles used for the company’s Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner, marking the first time that a U.S. pro sports team linked a waste stream to a specific product.

“I am so thrilled that people are becoming more and more aware of this issue, because it is a really complicated issue to solve,” said SC Johnson chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson, a fifth-generation leader of the company. “It is going to take a multitude of solutions. It is going to take government regulation. It’s going to take businesses to innovate. It’s going to take people to change their behavior. And it’s going to take a systemic change to our supply chain as companies.

“None of that is going to happen without society as a whole being aware of the problem and thinking about how to do something about it.”

According to the company, only about 14 percent of plastic containers and packaging in the U.S. are recycled. By collecting drink cups in specially designed receptacles throughout the ballpark, SC Johnson and the Brewers are ensuring that as much of the plastic is recycled as possible, with none going to landfill. And by putting the recovered plastic directly into the composition of a consumer item produced in Wisconsin, it creates an efficient closed-loop cycle with little to no waste.

Since the launch and initial focus on plastic collection, the partnership has continued to grow:

• In December 2021, Johnson joined several Brewers players and local development academy players in a Players for the Planet led beach clean-up in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic.

• For the 2022 season, SC Johnson and the Brewers provided all players with aluminum refillable water bottles and installed refill stations at the stadium to reduce the prevalence of single-use plastic.

• In April 2022, the team announced the intention to form the Brewers Sustainability Council, an effort by Suter and founding partner SC Johnson to create an advisory board to review, discuss and implement best sustainability practices at American Family Field.

• In addition, the Brewers, SC Johnson and Earth Echo teamed up to launch Waste-Free Crew, a sustainability education and awareness initiative for participating students in grades 4-6 in southeastern Wisconsin.

“It’s really a great step in the right direction,” Suter has said about the Brewers’ various environmental efforts. “People are becoming more aware and more concerned about their everyday actions.”