Bottles, straws, food containers, bags, supporter paraphernalia…. An important part of waste generation in stadiums is single-use plastics. The UN warns that 50% of this type of garbage ends up in the oceans. Friends of the Earth and the British Association for Sustainable Sport are urging all clubs to ban them from stadiums.

According to the result of the survey, 84% of the fans are in favour of the clubs using reusable or returnable cups and 86% agree football grounds should remove single-use plastics where possible.

“Fans want football clubs to take action on plastic. We’re encouraged that a number of clubs have already introduced measures on this issue – but need every Premier and Football League club do what it can to get rid on unnecessary single-use plastic,” Julian Kirby, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said in a statement.

The British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS) works to reduce the environmental impacts of the sports sector, “the impacts of plastic waste and pollution is one of the most important environmental issues of our time,” BASIS chief executive Russell Seymour explained.

A previous poll of YouGov showed that 46% of British citizens feel guilty about the amount of plastic they use and 82% are actively trying to reduce their own waste generation.

A plastic pledge

BASIS and Friends of the Earth are asking football clubs to sign a pledge and “get drastic on plastics.”

The environmental charities asked clubs to remove non-essential single-use plastics by the end of this season (2019-2020), including strawsand bags, as well as prioritising sustainable alternatives when possible.

By the start of the next season, the NGO wants clubs to replace the single-use cups with reusable ones. “A reusable cup scheme is one of the key steps clubs can take – this measure alone would prevent millions of single-use plastic cups being landfilled or incinerated every season,” Kirby said.

The Premier League and British TV channel Sky News launched an initiative in 2018 with the aim of replacing single-use plastic cups. Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and Fulham already tested a scheme to replace them with reusable ones in the past season.

Tottenham Hotspur has committed to phasing out single-use plastics. BASIS and Friends of the Earth want all football clubs of the top four divisions to follow suit.

Furthermore, the ecologists are urging the teams to ensure easy access to fountains for fans to refill their own reusable water bottles in stadia.

Beyond reducing waste, the environmental charities urged the clubs to engage in raising awareness among the fans, visitors and the community surrounding the stadia too.

“Football clubs across the UK should aim to be champions off the pitch, as well as on it, by giving single-use plastic the boot,” the Friends of the Earth campaigner insisted.

EU ban on plastic

In March, the EU passed a new directive that bans a group of selected single-use products made of plastic, encourages the reduction of consumption, ensures better selective collection and makes businesses take their share of responsibility.

The objective of the legislation is to guarantee that all plastic packaging placed on the EU market is reusable or recyclable by 2030.

However, as the UK is set to leave the Europen Union on 31 October, this legislation would not apply.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]