Turning the tide on plastic at sporting events

30. 08. 22

When you look at the carbon footprint of sporting events, food and its packaging are a significant part of the impact.

Sustainability is one of the most pressing challenges of our time across a broad spectrum of social, environmental, and economic matters. There are also pressing concerns from the sports community about managing its day-to-day affairs and its responsibilities toward young people and future generations.

For decades, the world of sports and entertainment has been an accelerator for meaningful change – from fostering international collaboration to addressing equal pay. It should be no surprise then, that there is a massive opportunity within this community to drive actions that benefit the environment and enable a circular economy – where materials can be, and are, used again and again.

And so, the circular economy is becoming an essential pillar of many sports organisations’ sustainability strategies as they look to minimise the impact of sporting events on the environment and drive resource efficiency and cost savings. Many are moving to develop a practical guide to achieve zero plastic and food waste within their organisations, across their events and collaboratively across sport.

While tens of millions of fans cheer on their favourite teams at events worldwide, impacts including air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation emerge. As hubs of cultural and community moments, sports and entertainment venues, as well as their teams and players, have the power to improve their impact and influence significant sustainable change on a broader scale.

Making a sustainability impression

Around the world, we use millions of tonnes of plastic each year because it is such a cheap and versatile material. However, much of this plastic is used just once and then thrown away. Only a small percentage gets recycled. Unfortunately, a lot of plastic waste isn’t disposed of responsibly and pollutes our seas, towns, and the countryside.

Suppose you look around any sporting venue or event today. In that case, you’re likely to see plastic everywhere, from the clothes worn by athletes and the artificial turf in stadiums to the signage and tickets and the products and packaging found in shops and eateries. Some of this plastic is essential or hard to replace, but much of it isn’t really needed, especially for single-use plastic applications. With proper planning, we can design out a lot of plastic from our sporting events and, in the process, encourage our supply chain and millions of sports fans to act too.

That’s why we’re very much a fast-mover regarding sustainability and have invested over a decade of resources into the development of to-go packaging, which is plastic-free (wherever possible), renewable, recyclable, and compostable. But it seamlessly integrates into a business’s existing waste streams, whatever they may be.

At amipak, our carton boxes continue to prove a highly popular choice. Accessible, sustainable, and robust, they facilitate transit with ease. Meeting consumer sustainability demands that include qualities such as compostable and recyclable, they are also ideal for quick service. They can be provided nested or flat packed, can be made leakproof or grease-proof, maintain freshness, and represent a hygienic choice. To debunk a common misconception about cartons, there is no sacrifice to functionality. No compromise.

We have invested heavily in the future of our food service and takeaway packaging, installing new machinery and introducing many new product ranges. We have also expanded our team and upskilled our people. We have worked to secure DIN CERTCO composability certification, Flustix plastic-free trust marks for key lines, maintained BRC AA certification and achieved FSC chain of custody.

Where packaging design was previously complicit in the waste problem, we endeavour to make our packaging do something about it. Anything that leaves our state-of-the-art facilities ticks box after box and leans directly into the demands of today’s consumer.

Consumer consciousness is on the rise

Tackling food waste is also critical to improving sporting events’ environmental performance. This means preventing waste through initiatives such as menu design and smaller portions and dealing effectively with the waste.

Incorporating our packaging into the busy foodservice environment reduces food waste and spoilage, which comes at an enormous cost to the business. It ensures ingredients are captured at their best and hygiene requirements are met.

Food waste is one of the core sustainability focuses in today’s market – for a good reason. According to EU published data, around 88 million tons of food is wasted annually in Europe and about one-third of food for human consumption globally.

Cutting food and packaging waste, making pledges, meeting targets and environmental goals, as well as other corporate social responsibility plans, all continue to significantly contribute to creating a positive reputation around a foodservice brand. It has also fast become a matter of competitive advantage.

To identify the best environmental option in each case, a life-cycle approach is needed that is adapted to each application and context.

Closed-loop systems are ideal applications. Take this summer’s Glastonbury Festival, The Wimbledon Championships, or The British Grand Prix – using compostable packaging means uneaten food and scraps can be thrown in a single bin for processing preserving food nutrients without contaminating the waste stream. Similarly, collection services where companies supply and collect compostable packaging reduce contamination and leakage and ensure that materials are circulated at their highest value.

While avoiding plastics altogether might never be possible, choosing eco-friendly food packaging that is less toxic, compostable, or recyclable is a good step toward mitigating plastic’s harmful effects on the environment and your health.

Ultimately, it will take all of us to create a lasting impact. Beyond sports, every industry is responsible for evolving the way it does business to address the environmental challenges we face.

These challenges affect us all, and we all have a role in addressing them. At scale, a small behaviour change can significantly impact the planet. By leveraging the influence of sports and entertainment to share that message, we can make a difference.

Related Articles

Good things come in Amipak packages

At the tap of a smartphone, a hot meal can take just 30 minutes to arrive via a box-bagged, traffic-dodging…

Food for thought

If the global food waste issue were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, just…

Structure and sustainability – how takeout packaging can deliver for millennials’ appetite for change

In many ways, millennials are the current custodians of the Earth. It’s no surprise, then, that they are using their…