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UEFA, PepsiCo to debut circular economy venture at Champions League final

UEFA and PepsiCo will use this weekend’s Champions League final at the Stade de France in Paris to begin carrying out circular economy practices centred around the 4Rs Framework outlined in the governing body’s sustainability strategy.

The 4Rs Framework covers initiatives to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover materials. During Saturday’s match between Liverpool and Real Madrid, data will be collected and analysed to define a baseline for improvement actions that will form the basis of UEFA’s guidelines for circular economy in food and beverage at football matches.

The practices that will be tested on Saturday will include menu boards with environmental information to provide visibility on the climate impact of foods. PepsiCo will introduce reusable eco cups across all selling points, and all PepsiCo brands will use recycled plastic bottles made with between 25% and 100% recycled plastics.

UEFA’s plans will also place a strong focus on recycling across events, including for aluminium cans and glass bottles, with ‘Please Recycle’ messaging to feature on Pepsi perimeter LED boards during matches.

Ten clubs have participated in the project during this season’s Champions League, which has 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. A feasibility analysis has also been developed for implementation of selected practices in two pilot stadiums.

UEFA is also aiming to introduce a new pilot initiative called ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’ for the 2024 Champions League final, which will take place at London’s Wembley Stadium. The overall goal is for this to be regularly implemented from 2026, with zero waste landfill becoming a requirement included in the selection of host stadiums, and across all UEFA events over the following years.

Michele Uva, UEFA’s football and social responsibility director, said: “The circular economy is an important pillar of UEFA’s sustainability strategy. Working with PepsiCo to assess aspects of the food and beverage circularity pilot project at the world’s biggest club competition match, is an important step in UEFA’s mission to inspire, activate and accelerate collective action to protect the environment within the context of European football.

“UEFA’s programme will soon see the drafting of a practical UEFA guide to approaching the circular economy at any level in football. The data we collect will be invaluable to help us achieve zero plastic waste and food waste – within UEFA, across UEFA events and collaboratively across European football.”

Jim Andrew, executive vice-president and chief sustainability officer at PepsiCo, added: “Our partnership with UEFA has already driven positive change for both people and the planet through projects which both minimise the impact on the environment and also benefit our communities.

“Now, we are bringing our collective action to inspire and activate the global football community as we deliver on our vision of a world where packaging never becomes waste. Work is already underway to implement a circular approach to our packaging at UEFA events but we’re not stopping there as we plan for the first zero waste-to-landfill UEFA Champions League final in 2024 in London.”

Image: Darthvadrouw/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size