The events and sports sector globally uses an immeasurable volume of single-use, mostly plastic, materials to dress our live event sites.
There has been little stewardship of those materials on their journey from manufacturing to ‘disposal’. Much of the material used is not made from recycled content, not recyclable, or simply not recycled.
During 2020 and 2021 The Ocean Race convened an industry collaboration to find solutions to dress and message event sites and venues in a way that reduces volume of single-use, ensures full stewardship of materials to circular systems, and ignites innovation in sustainable materials, production methods, and alternatives to business as usual.
INDUSTRY SCAN & KEY ISSUES
We scanned the industry; event organisers, production companies, deisgners, waste companies and manufacturers, and identified the key barriers to progress on sustainable look, overlay and signage at events:
- Temporary nature of events
- Location and event type
- Time and timelines
- Changing landscapes of events
- Lack of leadership
- Working in silos
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of post-event ownership of the issues
- Budget restrictions
- Lack of volume and cost competitiveness
- Scarcity of solutions
- Lack of materials stewardship
The process concluded three critical focus areas of opportunity:
REDUCTION, to focus on less materials use, CIRCULARITY to ensure materails flow back in to the circular system including driving demand for recycled content materials and increasing availability of recovery logistics and processing, and INNOVATION, in the way we message on our sites, in the materials used and processes of circularity and recovery.
Read more on the key opportunities in the Outcomes Report and Roadmap.
INNOVATION WORKSHOP 2020
In May 2020, 80 industry leaders gathered in a (virtual) 'Innovation Workshop', to discuss these various challenges and opportunities, and develop a roadmap for action.
We broke into smaller groups, each focussing on a different angle. Teams included: 1) Industry Leadership: Systems and Innovation, 2) Industry Leadership; Collaboration, 3) Reduction & Efficiency, 4) Materials Recovery and Circularity, 5) The Design Imperative, 6) Solving Siloism, 7) Igniting Innovation, 8) Moving Goalposts, 9) Stand Behind the Science.
Key outcomes are included in the report, but the top three voted pain points to improvement were:
Press play below to view a recording of the Innovation Workshop:
REPORT & ROADMAP
The industry review and Innovation Workshop resulted in a report and roadmap of action for our industry. Read the report
During 2020 and 2021 we continued to meet in smaller working groups and looking at Reduction, Circularity and Innovation.
In collaboration with IOC and UEFA, further analysis was undertaken, including an LCA comparison report of various materials types, and guidelines to help look and signage decision makers in sourcing sustainable options.
Download the documents:
INNOVATION WORKSHOP 2021
Signage, branding, scenic design and fence coverings at events can account for huge volumes of plastic, which are often used once and thrown away. To date, the size and scale of the issue hasn’t been quantified, but it is vital we understand this in order to tackle the problem and find sustainable alternatives.
The Ocean Race's Innovation Workshop in December 2021, provided a forum for tackling this challenge. Bringing together leaders in events and sports, production houses, suppliers and circularity specialists to focus on solutions to circularity, transparency, materials stewardship, and technical innovations for the recovery of event's look and overlay textiles, with a Europe focus.
It was apparent that many of the sector were looking for circularity solutions that just aren't in existance.
We gathered leaders from the circular textiles sector to brief us on the current and emerging status of textiles circularity and how the events and sports sectors can participate.
Watch the workshop:
Workshop participants resolved that events and sports can align with programmes such as Vision 2050 for textiles.
In these next critical years to 2025 and beyond, we should increase demand for materials made from recycled content and require our production houses and waste companies to join up with the development of reverse logistics solutions to ensure our textiles make it back into the circular materials economy.
Speakers included Cyndi Rhoades from Worn Again Technologies and World Circular Textiles Day who introduced the 2050 Vision, and Mauro Scalia from Euratex letting us know about reverse logistics solution on the near horizon - their ReHub. Petra Schweiger of Accelerating Circularity introduced us to the illusive existence of actual textile recycling facilities in Europe right now!
Our co-producer in this industry leadership group, Lise Van Long from the IOC let us know of achievements and innovations from Tokyo 2020 Olympics. We also heard from Tim Cross of Project Plan B and their exciting pilot with branding materials from Formula E and CSM Live, who also, via Giles Stanford of CSM Live, shared innovations and developments from Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Caroline Louis of Paris 2024 Olympics updated us on what they have been up to! And Rebecca Johansson from The Ocean Race's Official Partner Helly Hansen shared plans for a test run of our own flags from The Ocean Race Europe.
Apart from very experienced events producers and look and overlay specialists and producers, we also had representation from: WRAP UK project managers of their Textiles 2030 Roadmap, Circularise who have an amazing new technology for digitising and tracing materials circularity, Plast Nordic who are testing a monomer recycling technology for textiles from GR3N, Ellen McArthur Foundation's Make Fashion Circular, Textile Exchange and Texaid.
2025 Vision & Commitment
We co-created a Commitment and Vision:
By 2025 we will have:
- Suppliers/producers take responsibility and facilitate solutions for end-of-life.
- Recycled content materials and responsible bio-materials automatically the default option offered by suppliers to events.
- Collection systems and reverse logistics partners are in place.
- We have awareness and communications campaigns that communicate ‘the system’ to all stakeholders.
- We engage participants/audience in circular textiles - such as collection bins for post consumer textiles at events too.
How will we get there? We determined that all events and sports should take the following commitments and action:
- Become a test bed for innovation, run pilot programmes and test cases in circularity.
- Commit to sourcing the maximum percentage of recycled/circular inputs possible, from certified sources.
- Include all stakeholders in the value chain. (including larger playersalon along with smaller innovators.)
- Measure volumes of materials used, collected and reprocessed, by material type.
- Share results amongst our industry - publish results and case studies.
Downloadable Workshop Report coming soon.
We surveyed the industry during preparations for the second workshop and it was apparent that only a small proportion of events are measuring the volume of materials used, the proportion that is single-use plastic, and what the end of life processing is for them.
These are critical metrics for our industry to understand the scale of the impact and where to prioritise efforts.
An outcome of the second Innovation Workshop is agreement that as an industry we should be making commitments to measure and track our materials.
It is reasonable for event managers to include in agreements with suppliers and contractors that they provide accurate measurement data on textiles (and other) look and overlay materials.
- Require production houses to provide production measurement data.
- Require waste companies to provide transparent reporting on textile waste.
- Include data reporting requirements in RFPs and contracts.
- Be ready to receive and analyse the data.
What Data to Collect?
One of the main aims of the Innovation Workshop was to come up with agreed metrics which will allow benchmarking and comparison. The following were determined as measures we should all be gathering:
- Quantity of items
- Total m2
- Total estimated weight and/or volume
- Material composition
- Freight (for GHG analysis if estimated to be significant)
- Percentage single-use and re-used items
- Any sustainability credentials (e.g. ecolabel, % of recycled content, etc.)
- Volume and/or weight of materials by end processing option
- Traceability/proof of processing reporting.
THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE PEOPLE, EVENTS AND ORGANISATIONS WORKING TOGETHER ON THIS INITIATIVE
11th Hour Racing, 11th Hour Racing Team, A Greener Festival, Accelerating Circularity, Ad Hoc Media, BASIS, Berglon Enterprises, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, BlockTexx, Centre for Circular Design, Circularise, Cisco, Clean Vibes, Creating Environments, CSM Live, Cycling World Championships, Dow, Drees and Sommer, Eco Booth, Edge Environment, EPEA, Euratex, Faber Flags, Festival Republic, FIFA, Focus Banners, Formula E, Freeman, GAC Pindar, GDS Movement, Global Inheritance, Gondazione Exosistemi, GR3N, Green Events Netherlands, Green Sports Alliance, Helly Hansen, IMOCA, Ingrid Arkesteijn's Orangebox, International Olympic Committee, International Skating Union, ISLA, Kairos Jourdain, KLM Sustainability, Legacy Events, Les Connexions, London Marathon Events, Milan Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics, Ogyre, Paris 2024 Olympics, Plast Nordic, POND, Positive Impact Events, PRINTING United Alliance/Sustainable Green Printing Partnership, Project Plan B, Red Bull, Revival Props, Revolution Foundation, Sosu Events, Sponsor Council, Sports Positive Summit, Stena Recycling, Sustainable Event Alliance, T&T Design, Texaid, Textile Exchange, The Rubbish Project, The Shift, The Sustainable Signage Co, The Textile Review, TIG Sports, Toppan, TOR Stopovers Alicante / Cabo Verde / Cape Town / Itajai / Newport / Aarhus / The Hague / Genova, UEFA, Ulysse Nardin, Unifi, Wimbeldon, World Economic Forum, World Sailing, World Surf League Foundation, Worldperfect, World Circular Textiles Day, Worn Again Technologies, WRAP UK
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