Wimbledon has vowed to ramp up its efforts to cut plastic waste at this year’s Championships after coming under fire for the rubbish-strewn grounds seen in 2018.
Evian, one of the main sponsors, is using this year’s championships to pilot its new bottle made from 100% recycled plastic.
The brand, which is owned by Danone Waters, has pledged to become a “circular brand” by 2025, meaning all its packaging is both recycled and recyclable.
To tackle the problem of on-the-go recycling, the tournament’s organisers have upped the number of recycling bins as well as fielding on the ground “eco champions” to make sure spectators do their bit.
The initiative is being overseen by UK-based environmental charity Recoup.
Elsewhere, to hammer home the sustainable message, Evian will be replacing its logo with “I recycle” on all players’ bottles on site.
Last year fans voiced their disgust at the amount of waste Wimbledon generates – posting images of the piles of litter left on courts.
When asked about the mess, British tennis star Johanna Konta said: “I think you need to speak to Evian more than Wimbledon.”
She added that she too was trying to cut down on plastic, saying: “It’s a battle that everybody is facing.”
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) is part of the UN Sport for Climate Action initiative, which encourages sports events to show “climate leadership” by tackling their environmental footprint.
The initiative hopes to trigger climate action beyond the sport sector.
James Pearson, managing director of Danone Waters in the UK and Ireland, said: “We are excited to be partnering with Wimbledon to put circularity centre stage at such a global event.”
He added: “We hope to be able to show how working in partnership we can take a circular approach so that packaging can be kept within the economy where it belongs, rather than become waste.”
At last year’s event, plastic straws were banned for the first time in Wimbledon’s bars, cafes and restaurants while 87 free water refill points were installed along with 21 water fountains.
This year, players will no longer receive their freshly strung rackets wrapped in plastic, a move estimated to save 4,500 plastic bags.
Richard Lewis, chief executive of AELTC, said: “As a signatory to the UN Sport for Climate Action framework, we know that sport has an important role to play in tackling the challenges of climate change and that in order to drive change, action is needed.
“We strongly support the work of our partner Evian to become a fully circular brand and are pleased to be collaborating with them to raise awareness of circularity at the Championships this year.”
Some people believe the new measures do not go far enough.
Tony Bosworth, a campaigner with Friends Of The Earth, said: “The fact is that recycling is not in itself a silver-bullet solution.
“It’s really hard to see why an event of this scale can’t just introduce water fountains.”
This year, Glastonbury became the biggest event to date to ban single-use plastic bottles in a bid to cut the mountain of waste left behind each year.