ACR+ embarks on a week long study trip visiting the Football Association of Wales and the Gaelic Athletic Association

As a part of ACCESS’ ongoing screening of and initial information gathering on current environmental management practices and principles, as well as circular economy models in the four participating sport organisations, ACR+ will travel to Cardiff and Dublin to validate and collect additional valuable intelligence for the project phases to come.

As one of the two technical partners on the project, ACR+ is in close contact with the FA of Wales and the Gaelic Athletic Association and having completed the interview phase with them, the time has come to share the observations so far within relevant focus groups and see what different processes look like in practice. The events that would take place that week, namely the European Cup qualifying match between Wales and Latvia in Cardiff and the GAA finals in Dublin a few days later will surely be a great added value to the visits. The study visits will be carried out by Ernest Kovacs, ACR+’s project manager specialised in applied circular economy solutions in cities and regions. He would be visiting the Welsh FA on 28 and 29 March before traveling onwards to Dublin for the remaining days of the week.

“I am looking very much forward to these study visits, as they should serve as a validation of our observations, conclusions and proposals, resulting from the previous phase and online interviews. A week long trip might sound exhausting, but the objectives set right and activities well defined by the project and in collaboration with the partners, will allow us all to focus on what is important and make the best use of the time available – all in order to meet those objectives. And well, the fact there would be some games to attend will surely help me unwind a bit. I just need to brush up my knowledge on Gaelic football and hurling.”, Ernest reflected on the upcoming travels..

The study visits will indeed have their own specific objectives as they should be followed by the creation of Circular City Committees (CCC) in participating cities or regions. Since the CCCs should be the platforms where each sport organisation, its local and regional authorities and other stakeholders will work together towards improving the environmental management in sports, these visits should result in a successful assessment of potentials and opportunities for improvements and relevant intervention.

When asked what the role of local and regional authorities would be in the project and what he expects from them, Ernest said: “As someone who works for ACR+, a network of local and regional authorities, I see the project contributing to their efforts in making them more resource efficient, being a home for resilient communities and after all, being examples of good practice in the European context through an approach rather unconventional – environmental improvements in sports. Having said that, this is why we also need them as contributors to and stakeholders in the project. They are the source of valuable information, skills, tools and other kind of support which sport organisations can largely benefit from. I am very curious to see who could we work with, the options are vast. When it comes to visiting Dublin in particular, the special motivation lies in the fact that Dublin and specifically East Midlands Waste Region are a prominent member of ACR+. Nevertheless, having the other two waste regions – southern and Connacht Ulster as our members makes me hope the project would be able to reach out to those areas, too.”

GAA clubs sign up to fight climate change

Early March, GAA, Ladies Gaelic Football Association and Camogie club representatives from across the island of Ireland joined the GAA’s Green Club orientation events to commit to action in their clubs and communities to combat climate change and protect their natural environment.

The GAA Green Club Programme, which has been running since January 2021, provides practical support and guidance to GAA clubs in raising awareness and implementing environmentally sustainable actions in their clubs and communities.

During the programme’s pilot phase, 40 pioneering Green Clubs implemented a range of actions across the areas of Energy, Water, Water, Biodiversity and Travel & Transport to enhance the sustainability of their grounds and games, to engage their membership in sustainability action and to future-proof their grounds against the impacts and challenges of climate change.

Numerous clubs from all across the island have already undertaken green actions large and small, from gear swaps and banning single-use plastic bottles to community river-bank restoration projects, from pitch and clubhouse energy upgrades to tree-planting, and from creating biodiversity-rich walkways to running safe cycling programmes.

Padraig Fallon, Chair of the Green Club Committee and proud member of the Green Team in his own club, Clan na Gael in Louth, said “The success of the Green Club programme to date has been immensely heartening. In Clan na Gael, we have seen how our sustainable energy action plan, which included a full retrofit of our clubhouse and an upgrade of our pitch lighting to LED, has cut our carbon footprint massively and has resulted in savings that have allowed our club to operate comfortably even in the face of rising energy costs. The improvements to our pitch and clubhouse also mean that our club is busier and more full of life than ever.”

“There was huge interest from clubs around the country in joining the new phase of the programme. This is a very exciting and rewarding programme to be involved with and the GAA and our Green Club partners are looking forward to supporting clubs in a wide-range of practical, impactful and innovative projects that will contribute to making our clubs a vibrant and sustainable part of our communities for a long time to come.”

Over 200 clubs are signed up to the next phase of the Green Club Programme in an 18-month commitment that will see each club form a Green Team, develop a sustainability action plan and adopt a Green Club charter before becoming certified as an official GAA Green Club.

The new recruits to the Green Club Programme will benefit from the recently-published Green Club Toolkit – a set of simple, practical and relevant resources and case studies across the areas of Energy, Water, Water, Biodiversity and Travel & Transport developed in collaboration with expert organisations North and South and with funding from the Department of Environmental, Climate and Communication especially for the GAA’s volunteer-led context.

The Green Club Toolkit is an open access resource that is available on the Association’s website. The GAA Green Club Programme and Toolkit have been developed in partnership with the Climate Action Regional Offices (CARO) with the guidance and expert input of Sustainable NI, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Action Renewables, the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPro), Uisce Éireann, NI Water, the Regional Waste Management Offices, Keep NI Beautiful, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, RSPB NI, the National Transport Authority (NTA), the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the NI Executive’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Source: GAA

Zero Waste Scotland gets in touch with ACCESS in order to exchange experiences on improving environmental management in football

While ACCESS is focusing its efforts to support sport organisations to improve their environmental performances in the four project countries, similar initiatives are happening elsewhere – an opportunity for mutual learning not to be missed.

Only eight months after it started, ACCESS is already positioning itself in the field of environmental management in sports as a project which could contribute to developing innovative methodologies and approaches to both systemic and systematic solutions for “greening” sports. The latest call between ACR+, as the project coordinator, and Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), a Scottish agency leading Scotland to use products and resources responsibly, focusing on where we can have the greatest impact on climate change. On of their recent activities, launched and announced back in 2020 saw them teaming up with the Scottish Football Association to offer free environmental support to football clubs across the country. By receiving guidance to help identify ways of reducing energy, water and waste management costs, as well as increasing recycling, football clubs could benefit from a financial lifeline, whilst becoming more eco-friendly through the reduction of operational carbon emissions.

As ZWS’s Warren McIntyre and Nayantara Sudhakar explained to Ernest Kovacs of ACR+, the current support they are giving to the Scottish FA revolving around regular meetings which involve advising on a range of environmental initiatives with a focus on integrating more circular economy considerations into both the direct operations of the Scottish National Stadium and individual clubs. As Warren further added “A longer term more strategic aim of our engagement, however, is to develop a proposition to use the citizen reach of these clubs to educate fans on the climate impacts of consumption and circular economy opportunities”. On the ACCESS side, Ernest took the opportunity to present the ongoing screening phase at the Gaelic Athletic Association, FC Porto and the Danish and Welsh FA. He focused on the methodology being used and announced the upcoming spring activities.

The call further allowed the exchange of experiences and lessons learnt, mainly as consequences of different enabling and impeding factors and occurrences in sports that need to be taken into consideration when going into such endeavours.

For what concerns the Scottish FA, they certainly took advantage of the partnership with ZWS as they outlined their sustainability commitment as COP26 Climate Summit was taking place in Glasgow back in 2021. Titled “Environmental Sustainability in Scottish Football” the FA committed to even more stringent measures as part of their new strategy, “The Power of Scottish Football”, over the ongoing decade. You can consult the strategy here. Nonetheless, the FA’s commitment is also reflected in the ongoing European project “SDG Striker” which they are partnering in. This particular project seeks to increase the organisational capacity for Good Governance in grass roots sport organisations by assisting them to implement and communicate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to develop a joint understanding about best practices before, during and after being tested, and assess their potential for replication across national sports federations – and beyond national borders.

ACCESS project will certainly continue to build synergies and partnerships with other like-minded initiatives and projects in order to enrich its knowledge database and skills, and at the same time, to disseminate its own outputs and results.

Sant’Anna School travels to Porto in order to test the ACCESS Key Performance Indicator dashboard

As a part of this valuable tool’s development, FC Porto got the opportunity to be the first one to test it as they welcomed prof. Tiberio Daddi for a study visit.

As a part of the ongoing phase which revolves around screening current operational and governance practices in the four participating sport organisations – the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Welsh and the Danish FA and obviously FC Porto, the development of a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboard can be considered as a fundamental project activity currently being developed at Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies. The reason for being considered fundamental to the project lies in the fact that such a tool would allow both qualitative and quantitative assessment of current environmental performances in a rather short period of time. It perfectly complements the ongoing interviews and site visits as it would address performance indicators directly linked to and influenced by various practices and operations.

The visit itself served as a perfect occasion to test the initial version of the dashboard in practice and assess its functionalities and above all – the its user experience and user friendliness. The test gave empirical conclusions and findings on several features of the tool, primarily understanding whether the identified indicators are applicable to sport organisations and whether the user experience is positive enough for continuing the dashboard’s development according to the plan. In the meantime, parallel to the visit, ACR+ as the project’s second technical partner has been reviewing the tool from the technical point of view, namely whether the dashboard addresses the project’s key objectives and its compliance with the rest of the project’s work plan.

Without disclosing completely the tool just yet, it will certainly follow the methodology and the approach agreed for the interviews, traversing various aspects of environmental management: accommodation, food and beverage, mobility, purchasing, waste management and infrastructure maintenance. By using it on a regular basis, the user would be able to compare its baseline scenario indicators with the indicators of any eventual improvement actions it may implement.

Currently ongoing interviews to identify potentials for environmental management improvements in sports

As a part of the initial phase of the ACCESS project, a series of online interviews are currently being conducted with the most diverse staff members of the project’s sport organisations.

The responsible for these interviews are the project’s two technical partners who are screening and collecting valuable input for what is yet to come in the project. While Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies is interviewing FC Porto and the Danish Football Association from Pisa, Italy, ACR+ is doing the same with the Gaelic Athletic Association and Football Association of Wales from their Brussels office. On the other side of the table, or screens in this case, are staff members overseeing various operations and processes such as matchday management, infrastructure maintenance, procurement and purchasing, as well as waste, energy and water management among others. Translated into job positions, the interviewees include stadium managers, heads of facilities, CSR managers, operation executives, sustainability managers and more.

The diversity of profiles being interviewed reflects the focus areas previously identified for screening and assessment. Namely, they encompass activities and operations which define mobility, waste management, food and beverage supply and service, accommodation, purchasing and supply selection, as well as infrastructure improvements and maintenance. The overall objective of these interviews is to assess the current practices and understand their alignment with strategies and targets of respective local authorities and potentials for collaboration with these authorities.

The findings and observations these interviews would result in will serve as an input for the Circular City Committees, along with identified authorities and other stakeholders which would be invited to partake. Based on the “Communities of Practice” approach, the Circular City Committees will represent groups of experts, relevant staff members, local authorities and other stakeholders along various value chains with a simple objective – interpret the input coming from the interview phase, putting them into their own perspective, agreeing on potential improvements and putting all this in a comprehensive action plan to be implemented over the next two years.

The creating of four Circular City Committees, one per sport organisation is expected by the beginning of spring.

Academia and sports gather in Pisa to discuss environmental assessments of sport events

Organised under the umbrella of the ACCESS project and hosted by Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies this workshop had to objective to expose currently available tools for environmental assessment to sport organisations and provoke discussions on and comparisons of their purposefulness, features, functionalities and deployment in general.

Whether talking about qualitative or quantitative assessments, such activities – in form of audits, site visits, interviews, surveys, focus groups and similar, can provide sport organisations with a considerable amount of intelligence and insight in their current environmental performances. Once presented as heat maps, radar charts or other ways of data visualisation, they become easier for interpretation and for drawing certain conclusions. These conclusions could lead to comprehensive and tailor-made actions and decisions targeting different fields of operations and governance. Surely, other factors and affinities, as well as available skills and capacities need to be taken into consideration when wanting to add reasonability and rationality to these decisions. These are the factors which would determine whether a sport organisation should go for the “low hanging fruits” approach or the one that would set new benchmarks for other sport organisations.

This very event allowed the most recent European projects to showcase their tools in front of a versatile audience. The workshop did not only include the sport organisations participating in the ACCESS project – the GAA, FC Porto and the Football Associations of Wales and Denmark but also Francesco Ferrara of the Italian Swimming Federation, Anna Merlini of the Italian Canoeing Federation, Filippo Ceragioli representing the Parley for the Oceans and the 2021-2024 International Olympic Committee Young Leader, Nicolò Di Tullio, among other PhD students.

The four projects involved in the workshop, all supported by various European Union’s programmes, were namely GOALS, revolving around governance-oriented actions levering on environment for sustainability and GAMES, looking at environmental audit assessments. Green Sports Hub, a project which is currently entering its last year with some interesting outputs and tools that are gaining attention from across the world of sports made an appearance too, with it’s self-assessment tool applicable to a wide range of sports.

The workshop itself included several roundtables and group discussions around the different tools. What was common to each group ajd its participants was the expression of their gratitude to technical experts and academia for developing such tools. However, at the same time, they highlighted the fact that conducting an assessment requires a careful choice of a tool. Anna Merlini, of the Italian Kayak Federation stressed the fact that conducting an assessment requires a careful choice of a tool. The underlying reasons for this are numerous, but the ones that were underlined revolved around the capacities of different sport organisations – in terms of data availability, knowledge on processes and procedures, human resources and more. These would be the circumstances which would considered when choosing between non-invasive and scenario-based tools, rather than a data collection based tool. As it was echoed at the magnificent “Aula Magna Storica” room, tools based on data and figures are certainly useful and as important; nevertheless, a sport organisation first needs to reach a level of environmental management which would allow them to conduct such an assessment. Once they are there, they can aim as high as obtaining an ISO certification or similar.

Another highlighted remark was about the diversity of sports and the need of having tools which allow less known and less popular sports to be able to assess their environmental performance, too. Putting this in a real context, a tool developed for stadium or indoor arena sports might not be the most applicable ones to sports taking place in the great outdoors, such as cycling, sailing, golf, Nordic skiing or similar.

To conclude, this event and many other of a similar kind, which bring together various sport organisations, was proven to be very beneficial for the advancement of proper, sound and responsible environmental management in sports – an objective the ACCESS project wants to achieve, too.

Project partners meet in Pisa for a meeting which promises an action-packed 2023

Is there a better month to start an annual planning than the month of January? In case of the ACCESS project and what is to come as soon as from February onwards, the gathering in Pisa hosted by Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, was certainly timed ideally for laying down the basis for achieving not only the project’s objectives, but also meeting the project partners’ expectations this year.

The 23rd of January 2023, the day before the project’s 2nd Transnational Meeting – the formal title given to the physical meetings of the project partners, saw people involved in the ACCESS project arriving to Pisa from different parts of Europe. These included the Gaelic Athletic Association from Dublin, Danish Football Association from Copenhagen, the Welsh Football Association from Cardiff , FC Porto from Porto and the Brussels based project coordinator ACR+, all bringing the necessary inputs for a constructive and productive long day.

And a long day it was, indeed. It started with a Steering Committee meeting which had the objectives to look back at the previously agreed tasks and evaluate their progress, as well as set the ground for all the follow up tasks or new ones to start this spring. The project is reaching the end of its initial assessment phase which includes ACR+’s assessment of the GAA and the Welsh FA’s environmental practices in operations and governance through a series of online interviews. Sant’Anna School is doing the same for the Danish FA and Porto FC. Once the interviews are over, site visits will start taking place which would allow ACR+ and Sant’Anna School to verify, validate and witness these practices themselves. The observations and interview reports will provide valuable intelligence for the following phase which would see the introduction of local and regional authorities, as well as other stakeholders, and the formation of the four Circular City Committees – one per sport organisation. These Committees will have the objective to open the doors to new ways for and approaches to collaboration between sports and cities. In the background of these activities in Dublin, Cardiff, Porto and Copenhagen, the Sant’Anna School will be further developing the Key Performance Indicator dashboard which would be used for assessing the state-of-art environmental performances of the sport organisations and allow the Committees to monitor and evaluate the improvements they would agree on at a later stage. Nonetheless, the project is also expected to publish a comprehensive selection of good practices from across Europe around summer months of 2023 highlighting the most innovative and cross-sectoral solutions for improving the environmental performance of sports.

In order to achieve this, the afternoon of the same day was reserved for a training on Communities of Practice. This methodology was chosen not only for ensuring coherent and systematic setup, progression and resolute Circular City Committees but also guaranteeing their inclusive and participatory decision making. Led by Ernest Kovacs of ACR+, the training encompassed various phases in the lifetime of a Community of Practice, starting with defining one, its inception and establishment and most importantly – its maturity phase which should be the fruit-bearing one providing an action plan for tangible results. This was also the first of the three enabling training sessions within the project’s framework with the gender mainstreaming and community engagement coming latter this year. All the training material will be made available on the project’s website.

The next Transnational Meeting will take place in Porto, right after the summer months of 2023.

GAA Green Club Toolkit launch

A new GAA Green Club Toolkit launched on 3 December 2022 in Croke Park will be freely available to all GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association units and members to support the implementation of simple sustainability actions across the five areas of Energy, Water, Waste, Biodiversity and Travel & Transport.

The GAA Green Club Toolkit is the culmination of two years of collaboration between the GAA and the local authority sector, led by the County and City Management Association (CCMA), on a project to support sustainability and climate action in clubs and communities. The GAA-CCMA partnership led to the establishment of the GAA Green Club Programme, which saw over 30 clubs from across 17 Counties participate in Phase 1 of the GAA’s first ever national grassroots sustainability initiative. The Toolkit, which offers clear and practical advice to Gaelic Games clubs on how to engage in green and sustainable actions, contains applied and engaging case studies from the Phase 1 Green Clubs.

Green Clubs were thanked at the launch for their contribution to the development of the Toolkit, with each club presented with a plaque in recognition of their participation.

Expressions of interest for the next phase of the GAA Green Club Programme were opened at the Toolkit launch. An additional 75 Clubs from across the 32 counties will be selected to participate in Phase 2 of the GAA Green Club Programme, which will run from 2023 to 2024.

The GAA Green Club Programme is supported by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and was featured as a case study in the recently launched Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) National Implementation Plan 2022-2024.

GAA President Larry McCarthy said at the launch: “The GAA is a games organisation but it is also an organisation built on our commitment to the communities that our clubs represent. This Green Clubs Toolkit will support our members to ensure that our extensive network of facilities at club and county level are equipped to follow best practice across the five pillars of Energy, Water, Waste, Biodiversity and Travel and to ensure we play our part as community leaders in environmental sustainability. After two years of hard work I want to thank all the organisation who collaborated on this initiative and look forward to the Green Club Toolkit being put into action by clubs at home and abroad.”

Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications was quoted as saying: “The Department of the Environment, Climate, and Communications is delighted to support the GAA in its Green Club Programme. The GAA is at the heart of every community and parish in the country. Climate change is often seen as a global challenge but it’s very much a local challenge, something that we can all do something about – right here, in our parish, in our clubs.”

“The GAA Green Club Toolkit is an invaluable tool that identifies practical local solutions to this global challenge. It works because it doesn’t section climate action off – it stitches it into every day life, every day sport, every day community development and enrichment. The leadership shown by the GAA at national, regional and local level is captured in the inspiring case studies that bring this excellent resource to life. I’d like to acknowledge the work that all the contributors made to this resource and applaud their success in translating the Sustainable Development Goals into meaningful action through the Green Club Toolkit. I look forward to following the positive impact that the Green Club Programme makes in clubs and communities across Ireland”

For more information visit

Source: GAA

Football Association of Wales’s first sustainability strategy to harness football for Wales and the world’s well-being

While the men’s national team was heading to their first World Cup in 64 years, chief executive, Noel Mooney, said the organisation would put sustainability at the heart of all its decisions, encouraging the whole football ecosystem, and the rest of the nation, to follow its lead.

The strategy has been developed with the support of the Future Generations of Wales Commissioner, using the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act as its cornerstone. In 2015, Wales became the first country in the world to enshrine a duty to protect future generations into law. This means that any policy decisions made today must consider the impact on the generations of tomorrow.

Now the country’s football association is taking on that pioneering spirit with the vision to become a leader in sustainability in the world of sports, showcasing the example football can play in a small nation to inspire others to follow their journey.

The ‘Cymru, well-being and the world’ strategy builds on 2021’s ‘Our Wales’ strategic plan, which outlined six strategic pillars to build a sustainable association for the future. The report provides a clear plan of action for the FAW to develop sustainable and stronger clubs, leagues, and initiatives across seven focus areas: team, health, structures, facilities, partnerships, decarbonisation and croeso.

Steps are varied and include everything from revised procurement processes to setting up swap shop schemes for kit and equipment, creating a fund to install EV charging points at clubs and identifying locally sourced, plastic-free, plant-based food packaging for the football eco-system.

A pilot scheme will establish a well-being football hub in a health board to provide clinical, social care, mental health care and well-being services, before being rolled out across the country, while clubs and leagues will be twinned with others around the world to learn and share. The promotion of new participation formats and styles of football is on the table to increase access to playing for all.

FAW CEO, Noel Mooney said: “You’ve only got to step onto the street in Cymru at the moment to see the hold football has over the nation. There’s 3.1m of us excited for our first World Cup in 64 years and we’re determined to harness this power to improve Cymru’s economic, social, environmental, and cultural well-being. We see it as our responsibility to advocate for issues in local communities and around the world which positively impact our way of life.

“The pandemic has contributed to a tough couple of years for football communities around Cymru, but we’re bouncing back strongly. We like to think of ourselves as a progressive organisation in tune with the culture of the communities and characters that make up our beautiful game. Thinking sustainability first can reduce our footprint and waste, become more efficient and make savings that can be re-invested into grassroots football.”

Mooney continued: “While The Red Wall will be cheering us on at home and overseas this month, so many supporters never got the opportunity to share in this truly special moment. That’s why we’re asking fans to plant a tree for someone no longer with us through the My Tree, Our Forest initiative which launches later in November and will contribute to the National Forest for Wales. Those trees will help tackle the climate crisis and be around for many more World Cups to come. The offer begins two days before our first game, and we’d ask fans to look out for more information.

“Working with the Future Generations Commissioner, we’re committed to inspiring others and working together with people and organisations across Cymru today to make a better tomorrow. Gorau chwarae cyd chwarae. Let’s work together. Likewise, we’re integral to Welsh Government’s vision for sport to be a part of Cymru’s story as a globally responsible nation that cares. We’ll also be working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and engaging with UEFA’s football sustainability strategy 2030. One brick at a time, we’ll build a red wall at home and around the world.”

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales said: “Cymru is proving it can be a world leader – on and off the pitch! The Well-being of Future Generations Act is at the heart of this sustainability strategy, and I commend FAW’s commitment to protecting the needs and interests of current and future generations. This is a holistic sustainability strategy which outlines the actions needed to address multiple crises and create a better world for those yet to be born. I look forward to supporting staff, players, volunteers, communities and partners to make Wales the most sustainable sporting association in the world!”

Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters said: “What can make us even prouder of a team in the World Cup, is an organisation behind it that mirrors the values of a nation. FAW have shown their progressive stripes in their sustainability strategy published today. In our sports, our politics and our day to day living, we always strive to be a better Wales – an inclusive Wales that considers what impact our actions today will have on our future generations to follow.

You can consult the strategy here.

Source: Football Association of Wales

Danish Football Association and FC Porto present at UEFA’s launch of its Circular Economy Guidelines

The guidelines are a part of UEFA’s Football Sustainability Strategy 2030 and were unveiled with a panel discussion on the topic with the Danish Football Association and FC Porto being present as panellists.

On 7 September 2021, UEFA unveiled its Circular Economy Guidelines in conjunction with Zero Waste Week and the launch of the UEFA Football Sustainability Strategy 2030 – titled ‘Strength Through Unity’ – earlier this year.

The overarching strategy contains 11 policies, one of which focuses on circular economy, and the launch of the guidelines on that topic featured panel discussions between experts in the field from across the European football, political and corporate spectrum.

In the UEFA context, circular economy refers to the optimisation of the consumption and life cycle of products, most notably food, packaging and branded items throughout UEFA operations and events. The organisation’s 2030 ambition is to embed the so-called ‘4R approach’ – built around reducing, reusing, recycling, and recovering – in all operations to minimise the impact of football on the environment and drive resource efficiency and cost savings.

The guidelines include three sections: an introduction to the circular economy concept and the 4R framework; best practice and factsheets in the food and beverage domain by various football stakeholders (created with the support of UEFA’s commercial partner PepsiCo); and an outlook into forthcoming circular economy focus areas – energy and water, apparel and football equipment, and event materials (signage, brand production and furniture, and IT equipment).

Michele Uva, UEFA football & social responsibility director said: “The circular economy is an important pillar of UEFA’s Football Sustainability Strategy 2030. Collaborating with PepsiCo and several European clubs to assess aspects of circularity in food and beverage was instrumental in the development of the UEFA guidelines. I look forward to seeing these guidelines translated into tangible actions within UEFA, across UEFA events and collaboratively across European football to help us achieve our aspirational targets around zero plastic waste and food waste.”

The guidelines will help national associations, leagues, clubs, sponsors, event organisers and other football stakeholders start the journey towards hitting those targets by 2030.

Circular economy practices were tested last season with several clubs that participated in the UEFA Champions League, which led to the creation of a database of best practices and the formation of a consultation group among clubs to share knowledge and discuss common challenges, and a feasibility analysis.

The panel discussions, which included Anders Kjaer, the FSR manager at the Danish Football Association and Ricardo Carvalho, the sports facilities & asset manager at FC Porto, focused on circular economy from a strategic angle, highlighting the opportunities for collaborative solutions in the European football landscape as well as the challenges and opportunities around implementing the guidelines across football stakeholders.

Emmanuelle Maire, head of unit for circular economy, directorate general for environment at the European Commission shared his impressions: “We welcome the launch of the UEFA circular economy guidelines. We encourage clubs, national associations, players and supporters to reduce their environmental impact by taking concrete actions such as reducing food and plastic waste, separating waste, using reusable products or buying green with the EU Ecolabel. We very much look forward to the UEFA’s forthcoming measures to reduce energy and water use. Together, we can unite our efforts and drive the transition to a sustainable and circular economy.”

Source: UEFA

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