The Oval nears completely plastic free target

The Oval, home to Surrey County Cricket Club, claims to have achieved 90 per cent of its single-use plastic free target.

The 24,500-seat stadium, which is scheduled to host the opening match of the World Cup this week, has introduced several initiatives to cut down on non-recyclable materials after setting a goal in April 2018 to be 100-per-cent plastic-free in two years.

Alcoholic drinks, such as wine, spirits and champagne, are now being served in reusable glasses and glassware, while all water and soft drinks are served in cans and hot drinks in compostable cups.

Plastic straws and cutlery have been replaced with paper and wood versions, while condiment sachets are no longer distributed within the ground. Food is served in recyclable cardboard containers and the club shop has phased out the use of plastic bags.

Surrey has also installed 14 free water fountains around the ground, which it claims has resulted in water sales being halved.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, the environmental campaigners that have endorsed the initiative as “best in class,” said: “The Oval are hitting sixes when it comes to beating plastic pollution. Things like plastic cutlery often get used just once but can linger around for hundreds of years, polluting our oceans and environment.

“Making things which are re-usable, rather than just recyclable, is key, which is why it’s great that you can enjoy a pint at the cricket in a re-usable cup and why the installation of water fountains is so important.

“The Oval have shown that going plastic-free can be done, now we need more stadiums across the country to follow suit.”

The Oval’s reusable glassware is provided on a deposit scheme, with fans able either to return their glasses to collect their £1 deposit, or keep their cup as a souvenir, or deposit their cup into a charity bin. Bottled wine is decanted into carafes, which carry a £5 returnable deposit.

With the ground also now predominantly cashless, contactless redemption points have now been introduced, allowing fans to tap their card and receive their deposit back.

Richard Gould, chief executive of Surrey CCC, said: “We are committed to eradicating all single-use plastics at The Oval, and having reached 90 per cent of our target we are confident we are moving in the right direction.

“Reducing our environmental footprint is a major priority for us. We are proud that we are now within touching distance of being the first single-use plastic free stadium in our class.”

The final elements of the programme include sourcing a coffee cup that can be put in mixed recycling rather than compostable and, from next season, serving wine in cans. All delivery packaging is also being reviewed.

Image: The Oval