The Government’s Environment Agency is releasing new guidance encouraging the sports industry to kick plastics out of sport.

This includes new advice about reducing avoidable plastic waste at events and stadiums, which is being given to sports clubs, venues and event organisers across England.

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

It is estimated that major sporting events can generate up to 750,000 plastic bottles apiece.

Tokyo 2020 sailing gold medallist Hannah Mills joined the Environment Agency on Friday, 10 September, in calling on sport organisations across the country to ramp up efforts to tackle plastic waste.

The Agency has also encouraged people to visit the Big Plastic Pledge website – a global campaign founded by Mills that aims to tackle the issue of plastic waste and eradicate single-use plastic in sport.

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

The guidance has been produced on behalf of the Interreg Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project, a cross-channel partnership of 18 expert organisations.

The PPP project supports the Environment Agency’s ambition to promote better environmental practices that result in a reduction of plastic waste. It aims to achieve the goals and commitments outlined in its EA2025 five-year plan and the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.

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.”

New Forest Marathon event director Andy Daish 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.

“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.”

Ceri Rees, director at event organiser Wild Running, said, “We are encouraging our participants to take responsibility for bringing their own collapsible cups as part of their race kit, to eliminate wastage on feed station cups. We should all be in this for the long run, and hold event organisers accountable for their race equipment.”

Sporting Events UK director Barry Hopkins said, “We have been looking at our carbon footprint and our plastic waste over the last few years. We have been using reusable timing chips, with low plastic content, which can last for hundreds of thousands of active scans. Many of our signage items are produced in such a way that we can reuse them at future events.”

The guidance is available here.