Plastic waste crisis – What can sport events managers do to produce a plastic-free sport event?
5th November 2018
Why it is a contemporary issue?
Masses of plastic waste, which is usually left behind at sport events, has raised concern amongst both event managers and event attendees due to the impact that this has upon the environment. It is never hard to notice, or you may have already experienced single-use plastic products everywhere, especially within the event industry. For example, 750 000 of plastic water bottles are estimated to be collected after a London Marathon. This is equivalent to 7 tonnes of waste.
Are sport events contributing creating a plastic planet? Is it possible to reduce single-use plastic products at sport events? Are there any solutions? Keep reading if you want to be inspired how to run a ‘plastic-free’ sport event.
What is going on?
Plastic is becoming one of the significant environmental issues of our time. Scientists reveal the quantity of plastic pollution in the ocean is set to treble within a decade.
The UK Government has invested around £61.4 million to stop plastic waste from entering the ocean, they also plan to ban plastic straws and cups, which are the common products at sport events. However, this is only the very first step of the Government to help with the plastic waste crisis and there could be more in the future. Therefore, the issue has become a new challenge, not only to sport events managers but to both participants and attendees.
An Interesting fact about recycling plastic
The popularity of plastic usage led to the promotion of plastic-recycling , however, lack of education mislead the people into assuming that the plastic is recycled and re-established as a new product. In reality, only 9% of the recyclable plastic actually gets recycled. Therefore, event managers should carefully consider the products used at their events or select alternative materials.
So what can sport events do to save the planet from the plastic waste crisis?
Although it might sound impossible to eliminate the existence of plastic, especially in major sport events, there are various methods that have been trialled to control and reduce the plastic waste as well as to educate event attendees.
Edible packaging is made from seaweed, from drinks to food wrappers and plates, which can be eaten or biodegrade naturally in four to six weeks.
Skipping Rocks Lab created the Ooh packaging, which were filled with Lucozade Sport drinks and gels, were successful used at Richmond Marathon and Tough Mudder in West Sussex.
Evoware created seaweed-based packaging, which can be used as food sachets, wraps, cups and also to package the non-food based contents such as cutlery, toothpicks, etc.
The benefits of Ooho and Evoware packaging are the environmental advantage of avoiding plastic packaging and they are virtually tasteless and odourless.
2. Recyclable products
Plastic bottles can be replaced by recyclable or reusable cups and bottles. For example, London Marathon organisers tried to reduce the amount of plastic bottles used by putting out 90 000 recyclable cups at three drink stations along the 26.2 mile route.
3. Banning plastic products
Some events managers have gone further by eliminating the presence of plastic products within their events.
For example, London’s Kia Oval cricket grounds have banned the use of plastic straws and introduced compostable coffee cups. Likewise, the organisers of The Commonwealth Games, which were held on Australia’s Gold Coast, banned the use of helium balloons.
4. Replacing, replacing and replacing
If an outright ban of plastic is not possible, replacing and using alternative options are worth considering.
For example, Twickenham Stadium has introduced reusable Fan Cups to replace disposable and plastic cups. Additionally, Croyde and Georgeham invented the first plastic-free sporting event series starting with the Croyde Ocean Triathlon. They replaced energy gel sachets with locally made flapjacks and protein balls and plastic bottles with compostable Vegware paper cups.
There are various companies that provide reusable and recyclable products, here is a few samples for your consideration: Stainless steal bottles, personalised cups, eco-friendly bottles, biodegradable plates and Ecoffee Cup.
Plastic waste is considered to be one of the greatest problems that humans are facing in their contemporary life. As sport events managers, we are not immune from this issue and therefore should we try harder and put our priorities in the right order to achieve plastic-free sport events by addressing the following questions.
- Do you think it is possible to control the plastic waste within sport events?
- What changes will plastic-free sport events can make?
- Do you find these given methods helpful?
- What are your alternative solutions that you find effective?
- Who is the ultimately responsible for helping to solve this problem, is it sport events managers or the participants or spectators?
We would love to know your thoughts, please share them with us in the comment section below.