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  • Annabel Sides

It's a Wrap! The Circularity of Sport: Rethinking sports equipment, uniforms and merchandise.

The Circularity of Sport Event, held on the 13th October 2022, was a collaboration between Green Planet Sport and the awesome team at Let Me Be Frank. Hosted and supported by Sustainability Victoria and the Circular Economy Business Innovations Team CEBIC and sponsored by Game On Recycling.

The Circularity of Sport Event reflected the need to support stakeholders in the circularity of sports equipment, uniforms and merchandise to assemble, share, learn and collaborate.
If you missed it there are a few ways that you can review the event and get a feel for the day.

Watch it in full and hear all the insights, conversations and ponderings from all the speakers (the long version) or view a summary of some of the discussions, produced by Sustainability Victoria (the short version, thanks Emma Forster and Jeff Hoogenboom for putting this together)

Short Version

Long Version

The mini-hack was not filmed however you can utilise the wheel of action and reach out for support in its application!

There were a LOAD of questions that we didn’t have time to answer on the day, Post event we have answered as many as we can and the responses will be emailed to those who attended or have signed up to our mailing list. sooo....

Make sure you don't miss out on the next event and sign up to our mailing list, we are looking to have some awesome hours of power and other activities to deep dive into a range of regenerative sport topics.

Review the evaluation here - a glowing 4.8 out of 5 all up! Name tags without organisations on them, a squeaky door and not enough time the only complaints!

Recap on some of the ideation on sport and the circular economy

The circular economy gives us a framework to tackle global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. It decouples economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and is underpinned by a transition to renewable energy and materials. It represents a critical shift from our linear process of take, make and waste to ensure we are designing out waste in all its forms. It is a resilient system that is good for business, people and the environment.

The sheer scale of over-consumption and waste of sports equipment, uniforms and merchandise is prevalent across all codes and all levels of sport. If we reflect on just one small part of our sports ecosystem we begin to paint the picture. Green Planet Sport has estimated that in 2019, across 7 sports codes, entry level participants received almost 3 million merchandise items, including:

  • Inflatable Balls and Rubber balls

  • T-Shirts/Singlets/Capes/Socks/Rash vests

  • Backpacks and Boot Bags

  • Hats or Caps

  • Stickers, cards, booklets

  • Bats/shin guards/sunglasses/pumps/drink bottles/wristbands

The inflates distributed as part of these programs account for close to 6.5% of the total number of inflates imported into Australia in the same year. 7,178,38 inflates FY 2019, ABS, (ABS, Customized report, 2022).

These figures were collected not to name and shame, purely to show volume, as it was possible to estimate this data set through publicly available participation numbers in annual reports and kit information on websites. Entry level sport provides an initial touch point for engagement and there is a lot of great work and messaging that goes into this programming, including messaging around fair play, respect and healthy eating.

The decision making about what goes into these kits is often tightly held within commercial and marketing departments, linked to licensing, branding and sponsorship agreements. Outside of the commercial paradigm Rochelle Eimes from Physical Activity and Sport Insights preliminary research findings show the top 5 things that makes playing sport fun for children/youth are:

1. Being challenged

2. Playing well as a team

3. Trying your best

4. Playing with friends

5. Having a friendly coach

Imagine if we were to redesign our focus on these types of outcomes using the same commercial decision making applied to material objects for return on investment. What if we place environment, equity and experience at the core…... values and purpose....

When we increase the circularity of sport we become part of the solution to the climate, biodiversity, waste and pollution crisis we are facing. We can offer new ways of delivering sport with our partners. The circular economy offers an avenue and opportunity for the sports ecosystem to achieve incremental and transformational change. As a sector, when we work in this space, we become seekers of ways to protect our places of play, our communities and our organizations in a fair and just way.

In 2018 the United Nations identified sport as a sectoral approach to tackle climate change, investing in the co-creation of the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. The framework works toward two overarching goals:

  1. Achieving a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change, through commitments and partnerships according to verified standards, including measuring, reducing, and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the well below 2 degree scenario enshrined in the Paris Agreement;

  2. Using sports as a unifying tool to federate and create solidarity among global citizens for climate action.

And a set of 5 principles:

  1. Undertake systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility

  2. Reduce overall climate impact;

  3. Educate for climate action

  4. Promote sustainable and responsible consumption

  5. Advocate for climate action through communication.

Our actions to get our sports “houses” in order is one of necessity, to align with legislation, licensing, good business practice, public expectation, particularly the expectation of young people. It is work we need to match to the urgency of the climate crisis, it needs to be front of mind, it enables our social license cooperate. Yet, the most value in out sector lies in our reach and our ability to mobilize our team.

Partnerships and communication are two of the strongest levers for sport.

Partnerships offer sports solutions and create opportunities to innovate together, to redesign the way we consume, build and do business so that we contribute to our ability to:

  • Eliminate waste and pollution

  • Circulate products and materials at their highest value (as long as possible) and

  • Regenerate nature

Advocating for the circular economy and telling the story of circularity in sport, through sport, offers potential to engage the sports community and its fandom in climate action. Sport can amplify messages, improve literacy and inspire action across the sports ecosystem.

The global reach of sport is unsurpassed by any other cultural phenomena of modern times. At the Sports Positive Summit in the UK it was cited that research studies show athletes hold 56% of global influence compared to 1-2% of our climate scientists.

Brian P. McCullough (Ph.D., Texas A&M University) member of the Sport Ecology group also states “research shows you can bypass resistance to environmental messages of individuals by engaging them through their sport or team”

Thanks to all those organizations and individuals who supported the event as supporters, speakers, facilitators and attendees.

When the going gets tough in sport we have a team of people who are our support network. Well it's pretty tough going for Planet Earth at the moment and we are her team, your interest in this event, in Green Planet Sport and your willingness to show up makes you a critical part of her support network. Thank you.

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