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UK Sporting Venues Come Together to Tackle Single-Use Plastic Pollution

single plastic wimbledon

Centre Court at Wimbledon, home of the All England Tennis Club (Photo: Shutterstock)

Senior figures from leading sports associations across the UK gathered for the first time on Monday, 3 December to address the issue of reducing single-use plastic pollution at their venues and events.

The meeting, which was organised by the British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS), the Marine Conservation Society (Mcs) and the Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) #OneLess campaign, provided attendees with an opportunity to learn more about the marine plastic problem, and the technical knowledge needed to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic from their premises.

Over 25 organisations took part in the meeting held at Lord’s Cricket Ground, including Marylebone Cricket Club, Arsenal Football Club, Chelsea Football Club, UK Sport, England Hockey, All England Lawn Tennis Club, and The Jockey Club. Participants heard from scientists, including the ZSL, MCS and the Environment Agency about the marine plastic problem and its impact on marine life. Organisations that have already begun to reduce their plastic footprint spoke about the action they have taken so far, with guidance from ground safety and waste management specialists. 

'Sports clubs and venues get through vast amounts of single-use plastic, which can end up polluting our ocean and marine ecosystems for hundreds of years.' said Fiona Llewellyn, the Zoological Society of London's Marine Conservation Project Manager and campaign manager for #OneLess. 'Yesterday’s meeting empowered clubs and venues to take action for the ocean and showed that there are practical steps they can take to reduce their dependence on single-use plastic. We look forward to continuing to work with this group, supporting them to implement positive changes in their events.'

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Lords Cricket Ground has already started to phase out single-use plastics (Photo: Neil Mitchell/Shutterstock)

Lord’s Cricket Ground, has been leading by example by ceasing all sales of plastic bottled water and installing 25 new bottle refill points around its venue, and working alongside MCS to phase out plastic straws and introduce a reusable cup scheme, where each cup can be washed and reused over 100 times. Lord’s is a member of the #OneLess campaign’s pioneer network, a community of London-based organisations taking steps to reduce bottled water and encourage refilling.

'BASIS exists to reduce the impacts of the sports sector by facilitating meetings and educating organisations, participants and fans. Convenience and speed of service has meant that sports events have relied on single-use plastic for a long time. The problems caused by single-use use plastic have become clear and sports events have a role to play in encouraging sustainable behaviour. Our event today, organised in collaboration with #OneLess and the Marine Conservation Society has demonstrated the positive impact the sports sector can have and should have in the future." said Russell Seymour, Executive Director of BASIS and Sustainability Manager at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

With an upsurge in public concern around plastic pollution’s impact on our ocean and a growing number of Londoner’s choosing refillable bottles, sporting events are quickly looking for ways to ensure fans and athletes stay hydrated in a more sustainable manner.

Emma Cunningham, MCS' Senior Clean Seas Advocate said: 'In September, 15,000 people took part in our Great British Beach Clean - double the number in 2017. The public really does understand how our throwaway lives are impacting on our oceans and beaches. Many of those would have been sports fans, and they will expect the venues they attend to be cutting out single-use plastic. This could be a watershed moment for the sports industry - being seen to lead the way in the wider events industry.'

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