03 July 2015

How Wimbledon and other tennis tournaments are embracing sustainability with a green slam

Professional tennis tours are not a green endeavour. Thousands of people fly around the world to play or watch the game.   The four pinnacles of tennis, namely the Grand Slams in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York are attempting to impart a culture of recycling, sustainability and efficiency on the game.

Wimbledon has approximately 500,000 spectators every year who generate vast amounts of waste which includes 250,000 plastic bottles, and 350,000 used tea cups.  This waste is sent to a Material Recovery Facility for recycling and non-recyclables are processed at an 'Energy from Waste' facility. 95% of Wimbledon waste is diverted from landfill.  95% of all water used at Wimbledon is recycled. 



Strawberries for which Wimbledon is famous, are nearly all locally-sourced.  Most come from Kent and are picked at 5.30am each morning.

In Paris the Roland-Garros event became been the first French sporting event to have ISO 20121 certification in May 2014 and only the second event ever after the London 2012 Olympic Games.  Other than tennis, the focus at last year’s tournament was sustainable transport with a car pooling website operating for visitors and the installation of a solar-powered electric bike charging point.  Hybrid and electric cars making up more than 60% of the tournament’s fleet of vehicles meant it was certified as low-emission and the decision to stop washing the fleet with water saved a total of 226,00 litres.   The French Tennis Federation launched an initiative to redistribute leftover meals to charities.  15,000 meals were handed out in 2014 alongside food already distributed by French supermarkets.

The highest-attended annual sporting event in the world is The US Open Tennis Championships.  In 2014 the tournament started a carbon balancing initiative where it offset more than 2.2m miles of travel emissions from players attending the event, as well as all the fuel used on-site at Flushing Meadows.  The tournament continued a composting program which saw 425 tonnes of food collected and re-used in agriculture and landscaping initiatives.  More than 12,000 gallons of food grease from the US Open’s kitchens and food stalls, will be converted into biodiesel fuel. 

The Australian Open held at Melbourne Park is in the middle of a £350m redevelopment plan.  Its’ goal is to become one of the most sustainable sports and entertainment venues in the world.  A key focus is to minimise the effects of the brutal Australian sun and building roofs have been coated in shiny coatings that reflect over 70% of the sun’s heat.  This keeps buildings cooler during hot days and onsite solar installations provides around 42MWh/year.  This is enough to power seven Australian houses all year round.   Tennis Australia has attempted to reduce travel impact by partnering with the city of Melbourne to allow Australian Open ticket holders free access to public transport on that sporting day.

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