With climate change set to dominate global headlines once again this year, businesses are increasingly looking for ways to ‘go green’. From cutting energy usage in manufacturing processes to instilling an eco-friendly corporate culture, companies, brands and even entire industries are beginning to realise that going green can be good for their global reputation as well as the environment.
The English Premier League is an example of a global brand slowly starting to adapt in order to better reflect a more eco-conscious social culture. It encourages its 20 member football clubs to commit to permanent eco-friendly and sustainable practices and procedures – an initiative that is starting to bear fruit.
So, as the Premier League continues to grow and establish itself as one of the biggest sports brands in the world, we explore exactly how green your football club really is.
Stats of the day…
In 2019, the BBC and the Sport Positive Summit – a United Nations-backed initiative – compiled research into all 20 Premier League clubs, focusing on the sustainability and eco-friendliness of each. Every club was asked to provide evidence of schemes and programmes they have in place relating to eight categories. These ranged from clean energy and energy efficiency to single-use plastic reduction/removal, water efficiency and plant-based/low-carbon food options.
Each club was awarded one point per category if a suitable initiative had already been put in place and a half-point if plans were in development but had yet to be put into action.
While the findings of the study did show all clubs have increasing ambition when it comes to going green – with every club having active policies in place to reduce single-use plastics and promoting sustainable transport options for fans, for example – they also show many clubs still have a long way to go.
Top of the league…
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that it’s the traditionally larger, more wealthy clubs that have the most eco-friendly initiatives in place. Leading the way with eight out of eight category points were Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Newcastle United, Brighton and Hove Albion and West Ham United came in joint second with an encouraging score of 7.5 sustainability points.
Propping up the ‘green league table’ were Crystal Palace with a score of 4.5 points and Watford with a disappointing low of just 2.5 points.
Although these findings do provide a positive indication of how Premier League clubs are doing to become more eco-friendly, they don’t give a full picture of each club’s environmental impact. This is most apparent when it comes to assessing a club’s carbon emissions output. It’s likely that future studies will also start to incorporate this data into sustainability findings.
Learning from the lower leagues?
With fans and customers more concerned than ever before about the eco-friendliness and ethical practices of their clubs, these encouraging initiatives put in place by Premier League teams likely represent just a starting point in what is bound to be a long journey to turn elite football in the UK green.
As business utility company Utility Bidder points out – despite the encouraging efforts of England’s elite football teams to become more eco-friendly, all 20 clubs still have a long way to go to match League Two side Forest Green Rovers who, according to FIFA, are the ‘greenest football club in the world’.