UEFA launches circular economy guidelines to drive sustainability in football

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UEFA, football’s European governing body, has unveiled its circular economy guidelines in conjunction with Zero Waste Week, with topics including waste minimisation, food and beverage management, and the role of renewable energy.

The release of the guidelines comes after UEFA launched its Football Sustainability Strategy 2030 earlier this year. The overarching strategy contains 11 policies, one of which focuses on circular economy.

The launch of the guidelines on circular economy featured panel discussions between experts in the field from across the European football, political and corporate spectrum.

UEFA said that circular economy is relevant to its business as it refers to the optimisation of the consumption and life cycle of products, most notably food, packaging and branded items throughout its operations and events.

UEFA’s 2030 ambition is to embed the ‘4R’ approach of reducing, reusing, recycling and recovering in all operations to minimise the impact football has on the environment, while driving resource efficiency and cost savings.

The guidelines include three sections: an introduction to the circular economy concept and 4R framework; best practice and factsheets in the food and beverage domain by various football stakeholders; and an outlook into forthcoming circular economy focus areas – energy and water, apparel and football equipment, and event materials such as signage, brand production and furniture, and IT equipment. The food and beverage section was created with the support of PepsiCo, a commercial partner of UEFA.

It is hoped the guidelines will help national associations, leagues, clubs, sponsors, event organisers and other football stakeholders start the journey towards hitting zero-waste and food waste targets by 2030.

Michele Uva, UEFA’s football and social responsibility director, said: “The circular economy is an important pillar of UEFA’s Football Sustainability Strategy 2030. Collaborating with PepsiCo and several European clubs to assess aspects of circularity in food and beverage was instrumental in the development of the UEFA guidelines.

“I look forward to seeing these guidelines translated into tangible actions within UEFA, across UEFA events and collaboratively across European football to help us achieve our aspirational targets around zero plastic waste and food waste.”

Last season, circular economy practices were tested with several clubs that participated in the Champions League, which 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, as well as a feasibility analysis.

UEFA also worked with PepsiCo to implement circular economy practices at the 2022 UEFA Champions League final in Paris.

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