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Rugby internationals leave large environmental footprint

Rugby’s Six Nations tournament brings economic benefits to Cardiff every year, but now Cardiff University researchers have found that the city pays a high environmental price.

Researchers at the University’s ESRC funded Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) studied the economic and environmental impacts of last year’s game between Wales and Scotland at the Millennium Stadium.

Rugby supporters spent an estimated £14.6m during the international weekend, with around £11.2m of that staying within the Cardiff economy.

However the BRASS team found that the game left behind an ‘ecological footprint’ more than 3,500 times the size of the pitch on which it was played. The ecological footprint is the amount of land required to produce everything consumed by an event and to absorb all the waste produced. The researchers found that the energy and resources used by 85,499 rugby supporters that weekend resulted in an ecological footprint equivalent to the area of 3,578 rugby pitches.

BRASS researcher, Professor Max Munday said: “The economic impact of this event compares favourably to other sporting events which have taken place in Wales. Although this is very positive news for the city and the rest of Wales, those involved in hosting large events in Cardiff such as the Welsh Rugby Union, Millennium Stadium and Cardiff Council still need to take the environmental consequences of such events more seriously.”

Lead researcher Dr Andrea Collins said: “Results indicate that if 50% of supporter travel by car was replaced with coach or rail, the environmental impact could be reduced by the equivalent of 170 rugby pitches. This would also result in 8,000 fewer cars on the road. Recycling 100% glass, paper and card packaging could reduce the waste Footprint by as much as 22%. By working together with transport providers the council and the stadium, the amount of resources and therefore the environmental footprint could be significantly reduced.”

Laura Wilby, Communications Manager at the Millennium Stadium, said: “As the stadium plays an important role in the economic, sporting and cultural life of Cardiff and Wales we are fully aware of the responsibility that brings to the Welsh Rugby Union and the Millennium Stadium. We are actively looking at ways to utilise renewable energy and recycle rainwater and refuse as part of our commitment to take drastic steps to help care for our environment. While a big day out at the stadium for a major event must always be an enjoyable experience we appeal to our fans and followers to do everything they can to help us achieve our aim of minimising any negative impact on the environment.”

Ecological Footprint – Wales-Scotland 2006

The ecological footprint provides an estimate of the area of bio-productive land required to produce the resources that are consumed to stage the game. Activities including how supporters travel to events and the food and drink the consume all involve energy use. This results in the production of Carbon Dioxide. The ecological footprint provides an estimate of the area of bio-productive land required to absorb those Carbon Dioxide emissions.

The footprint of the Wales-Scotland game was calculated using information provided by Cardiff Council, the Millennium Stadium, WRU, food and drink retailers, Arriva Trains Wales, Cardiff International Airport and also 900 rugby supporters who took part in a survey that weekend. The game had a total ecological footprint of 3,578 global hectares – or rugby pitches.

Food and Drink

· Supporters’ food and drink consumption produced the biggest environmental impact – an ecological footprint equivalent to an area of 2,177 rugby pitches.

· Supporters consumed some 626,000 pints of beer and lager, 393,000 units of spirits, 40,700 burgers, pies and pasties and 21,000 portions of chips.

· Consumption of fast food and drink also resulted in large amounts of litter and waste.

Litter and Waste

· 66.5 tonnes of waste was produced as a result of supporters attending the game that weekend. This resulted in an ecological footprint equivalent to the area of 158 rugby pitches.

· 65% was glass, 20% paper and card packaging and 12% food waste.

· 80.5% of the total waste came from food and drink establishments, including the Millennium Stadium.

· 6 tonnes of waste was collected from litter bins, road sweepings and coach and car parks.

. Less than 1% of waste produced as a result of the game was recycled.

Travel

· Supporters travelled 24.3 million kilometres to Cardiff to watch the game – an average of 284 kilometres per supporter.

· 59% distances travelled by supporters were made by car, 18% rail, 11% coach and 3% air.

· This resulted in an ecological footprint equivalent to an area of 1,117 rugby pitches. This is more than double that for an average UK resident over the same period of time.

· The car was responsible for 73% of supporters’ travel footprint as it has a relatively large ecological impact and was the most popular form of transport. Results indicate that if 50% of supporter travel by car was replaced with coach or rail, the environmental impact could be reduced by as much as 15%, the equivalent of 170 rugby pitches. This would also result in 8,000 fewer cars on the road.

Overnight accommodation

· Supporters spent a total of 49,000 nights in overnight accommodation. 52% of those were spent in Cardiff and 48% outside the city.

· 74% of bed nights were spent in hotels, 14% in guest house and B&B’s, and 8% with friends and family.

· An estimated 2.8 million kilowatts of energy was used for heating, cooking and lighting. This resulted in an ecological footprint equivalent to an area of 284 rugby pitches.

The Millennium Stadium

· The infrastructure of the 75,000-seat Millennium Stadium contributed a very small amount to the overall ecological footprint of the game. Despite using some 40,000 tonnes of concrete and 20,000 tonnes of steel, the predicted 50 year lifespan of the Stadium combined with an estimated 50 million visitors means that the Stadium has a very low footprint score of 0.4 global hectares per event.

Quotes
Gareth Hall, Chair of the Wales Steering Group for the 2012 Olympic Games:
“It is essential that events hosted in Wales consider their full impact on the environment. Wales should be at the forefront in the UK in reducing the environmental footprint of major events. We are working towards a One Planet Olympics; environmental targets with elements such as event recycling and more sustainable travel will be included in planning for Wales’ contribution to the 2012 Games. Gaining experience by managing events such as the Six Nations and the Ryder Cup 2010 in a sustainable manner will give us a head start for the future.”

Peter Northcott, Special Events & Security Manager for Arriva Trains Wales:
“We already run extra and longer trains during major events to cater for additional travellers. We are working in conjunction with the Welsh Assembly Government, Network Rail and other stakeholders on introducing capacity improvements projects such as the opening of the Ebbw Valley line, lengthening platforms on busy route so we can run longer trains and increasing the frequency of services on the Merthyr line of route. We will continue to consider further improvements with our stakeholders.”

Cllr Elgan Morgan, Executive Member at Cardiff Council for Environment and Transport:
“Businesses can substantially reduce the environmental impact of major events by simply reducing the amount of waste produced in the first place or by recycling materials. Businesses should ensure that they make arrangements to segregate materials for recycling by their waste contractor to make the city a more sustainable place.”

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities.

Visit the University website at: www.cardiff.ac.uk

Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society

The Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society was established by the Economic and Social Research Council in October 2001. The Centre is based at 55 Park Place at Cardiff University, and has an interdisciplinary nature combining expertise from the University’s Business School, Law School and School of City and Regional Planning. Visit the website at www.brass.cf.ac.uk

Economic and Social Research Council
The ESRC is the UK’s largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It provides independent, high quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and Government. The ESRC total expenditure in 2005/6 was £135million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes. More at http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk

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