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Creating Sustainability within Sport

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Within recent years a greater focus from the public and the consumer on environmental issues has forced organisations into adopting environmentally friendly policies and sustainable alternatives; the world of sport has been no different. It makes sense that football clubs should be governed in a sustainable manner, due to not only their influence on the public but also their astronomical earnings. Sheikh Mansour, the owner of Manchester City FC, New York City FC & Melbourne City FC, has an estimated net worth of around £20 billion. In comparison, in 2018 the UK government spent around £14.5 billion on environmental protection.

Within the past decade, football clubs within the English Premier League have unquestionably placed more of an emphasis upon becoming green. In fact, BBC Sport are working with the United Nations on the – Sports Positive Summit – and helped compile and rank the sustainability of all 20 Premier League Clubs. A full table of the club’s sustainability is available here.

A variety of sustainability schemes have been employed by club’s, which show  desire and initiative to make positive changes on the environment. Manchester United have reduced their annual carbon emissions by more than 2,000 tonnes, while Newcastle United have in fact declared themselves carbon positive in 2012, due to offsetting their carbon emissions, through investment in a variety sustainability of projects. Many clubs informally have employed car-pooling; Burnley players Ashley Barnes & Ashley Westwood even invested in a minibus in which they offer a taxi service to a group of their team-mates, reducing travel emissions.

Not isolated to the beautiful game, many sports have begun employing compostable or sustainable alternatives in their stadiums – reducing wastage of single-use alternatives. A variety of sports have also begun to use souvenir cups in stadiums to simultaneously enthuse fans and reduce wastage This strategy was employed in both the 2015 Rugby World Cup & the 2016 Rio Olympics souvenir cups were produced (pictured right).

For the 2020 season the New Zealand Rugby Clubs; The Highlanders, The Chiefs, The Hurricanes and The Crusaders, have employed the use of sustainable materials in their kits. Partnering with Adidas, the Kiwi teams have created a jersey which reflects a commitment to the environment by the clubs. The Adidas PrimeBlue range includes jerseys solely made with recycled plastic waste, collected from the coast. In line with their mission to end plastic waste, Adidas are committed to only use recycled polyester in their products by 2024.

Furthermore, Liverpool Football Club have shown their continued commitment to the environment with their 2020/21 kit, created by Nike. In a similar sustainability plan to Adidas, Nike have announced their aim to “Move to Zero”, and by 2025 hope to operate with 100% renewable energies. The Liverpool away kit (pictured to the left) is made entirely of plastic bottles. Seana Hannah, vice president of Sustainable Innovation within Nike, expressed the company’s focus upon sustainability, “With football being the world’s biggest sport, we absolutely wanted to make sure these principles were happening on the pitch too.” Hopefully, the funding and efforts within sport  increase, helping to create and promote green living both fans and within sport itself!