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Sports industry urged to ‘kick plastics out of sport’  

Plastic cone with cyclists racing in background

Olympic gold medallist Hannah Mills today joined the Environment Agency in calling on sport organisations across the country to ramp up efforts to tackle plastic waste.

New advice about reducing avoidable plastic waste at events and stadiums is being given to sports clubs, venues and event organisers across England as part of a drive to prevent plastic pollution.

Around 12 million tonnes of plastic enter our environment each year – that’s equivalent to a bin lorry load every minute. Of all plastic produced, 50%  is for single-use plastic items, which are used for only a few minutes before being thrown away. It is estimated that major sporting events can generate up to 750,000 plastic bottles apiece.

Project lead Hannah Amor, from the Environment Agency’s plastics and sustainability team, said: “The sports industry is in the unique position of being able to influence millions of people worldwide by leading the way in sustainability and setting a good example. By minimising avoidable plastic consumption, the industry can help reduce the impact of plastic on our planet, reduce its carbon footprint and contribution to the climate crisis – possibly saving money at the same time.”

The Environment Agency’s guidance invites the sports industry to address avoidable plastics by introducing water refill stations, minimising food packaging, providing more recycling bins and more.

The guidance also signposts people to the Big Plastic Pledge website – a global campaign founded by Tokyo 2020 Olympic sailing champion Hannah Mills – that aims to tackle the issue of plastic waste and eradicate single-use plastic in sport.

Hannah Mills, said: “By harnessing and unifying communities by the power and reach of sport, through the athletes, events, fans, volunteers and brands, the lasting impact is almost unimaginable. I encourage everyone to make a pledge to reduce their single-use plastic consumption via the Big Plastic Pledge.”

Case studies detailing how organisations achieved their goals to reduce avoidable plastic, are also included, with an example from the New Forest Marathon, which replaced plastic drinks bottles for runners with cardboard cups which are collected and recycled. Runners dropping rubbish outside designated zones are disqualified for littering to communicate the importance to participants.

 Andy Daish, Event Director at the New Forest Marathon, said:  “Every event organiser has a responsibility to protect the environment they use. Furthermore, we are blessed with a perfect platform to communicate these key messages to those who visit the event. The New Forest Marathon are passionate about protecting the wonderful and diverse habitat and raise awareness of wider environmental issues. We work closely with key stakeholders to ensure we have zero impact on the local habitat, and hope the event plants a seed for wider behavioural change.”