The Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and Real Mallorca announced a new long-term partnership with Footprint, a material science company creating a healthier planet by reducing dependency on single- and short-term use plastics. The partnership will include naming rights and product integration, and it will exponentially amplify awareness and use of plant-based fiber alternatives to plastic and build toward a carbon-neutral, plastic-free arena. Over the next year, fans returning to the newly named Footprint Center for Suns and Mercury games or concerts and shows will begin to experience food served in Footprint’s biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable solutions as well as educational points about the positive impact of making a switch from single-use plastics in their everyday lives. Ultimately Footprint Center will become an immersive living innovation lab for fans, enterprising partners, and likeminded venue operators from around the world to visit.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Footprint to reduce the arena’s dependency on single and short-term use plastics by making Footprint Center a hub for sustainable products and packaging,” said Suns, Mercury and Real Mallorca Managing Partner Robert Sarver. “It was important to us to find a partner that could truly make a positive impact in our community and on the planet, and Footprint is a global leader that is also Arizona-based and therefore shares our commitment to the Valley. Integrating Footprint’s plant-based fiber technology into our core business functions will mobilize partners and fans to drive collective and systemic change, in our arena and beyond.”

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As part of the partnership, Footprint will bring its food and beverage solutions and a team of dedicated experts to help Footprint Center become carbon-neutral and single-use plastic-free while creating a living innovation lab for food and beverage suppliers to learn more about consumer sentiment and how they can transition away from plastic. Together, they will forge solutions that can be scaled outside Footprint Center and across the industry, helping companies concerned with ESG to integrate plant-based fiber solutions that are designed to be recycled and composted into their core product lines. The first change fans will see will be plates, packaging, coolers, and other single-use plastic items that can be replaced with Footprint’s innovative plant-based technologies. Footprint Center will also feature recycling and compost containers, not trash cans, which will be serviced to make sure the recycling loop is complete.

“We have a unique opportunity with the Suns, Mercury and Real Mallorca to transform sports and entertainment experiences where fans can enjoy their food and drinks in sustainable packaging and learn more about how they can make changes in their daily lives to get rid of single-use plastics,” Footprint CEO Troy Swope said. “Together we’ll create a living innovation lab of new ideas for consumer feedback, new opportunities for our customers, and we can educate fans in a way that will create a ripple effect outside the arena. Today is just the beginning.”

Reducing dependency on single-use plastics is just one way brands and fans can take a stand for the environment. Footprint Center will set a new standard in sustainability and demonstrate what’s possible for other arenas around the world. Both organizations recognize the need for third-party vendors and suppliers to accept the challenge of eliminating single- and short-term use plastics and invite them to look to Footprint Center as a viable testing ground.

In addition to supplying some of the world’s top food brands with sustainable plant-based fiber solutions, Footprint started the Footprint Foundation, and in 2021 initiated Pledge2050, a call to action encouraging people around the world to quit single-use plastic. Athletes, entertainers, and fans coming to Footprint Center or Mallorca Stadium to perform will be invited to take the pledge. Starting in single venues can be a gateway for others to understand how to make the switch from plastic to compostable and recyclable solutions.

This partnership is a significant step forward building on the momentum of the arena transformation that began in 2020, and has included over 8,200 tons of material being diverted from a landfill, 757 tons of plastic and metal being recycled, new LED lighting in all finished spaces, new energy efficient mechanical systems with economizers for more fresh air, and reused and recycled materials used throughout the arena. Prior to the transformation, the arena transitioned to solar through partner APS in 2012; making it one of the first venues to take this step at the time.

“We believe our partnership with Footprint will put Phoenix on the map for a more sustainable future,” said Suns and Mercury chief revenue officer Dan Costello. “Taking this step will position the Valley at the forefront of the sustainability movement. A local effort to eliminate plastic and become carbon-neutral will set a standard for innovation that can spread through the city and scale throughout the sports and entertainment industry. Sustainable business is good business for our teams, the community and the environment.”

Besides having a positive impact on the Valley, this partnership will have global reach as Footprint will bring its consulting services and sustainability products and options to Real Mallorca’s stadium as well. The European Union banned single-use plastics starting July 3, 2021, which makes the adoption of new solutions an imperative.