This year’s Wimbledon Championships will get into full swing at the beginning of July. Like most large events that attract hundreds of thousands of people, there will be hundreds of unsung heroes behind the scenes dealing with the thousands of tonnes of tennis waste produced by spectators, staff and players.
In 2016 nearly half a million spectators watched the tennis drama unfold over the fortnight of play, looked after by 6,000 members of staff, and this year will be no different. Recycling facilities will be needed for the 23,000 bottles of water and 29,000 empty Champagne bottles due to be discarded, not to mention bottles from the 44,000 litres of milk!
Added to this will be the waste created by all the meals, sandwiches, teas and coffees, drinks, ice creams and, of course, the 28,000kg of strawberries and 10,000 litres of cream. On top of that, if it’s anything like last year, the players will consume around 5,000kg of bananas…which means an awful lot of peel will needed to be disposed of.
Organisers are keen to increase sustainability. As part of their Masterplan, they say their aim is to “reduce carbon emissions from the grounds” and “establish a long-term framework to ensure that future development is carried out in a coordinated, sustainable and resilient manner”. Over the past few years, waste has been sent to a material recovery facility where 95% of it has been recycled or sent to an ‘energy from waste’ facility.
Waste concerns outside the tennis court gates
Waste isn’t just a problem for organisers within the tennis tournament’s grounds. The queue of non-ticket holders outside the grounds is as much a part of the Wimbledon tradition as strawberries and cream.
The queue outside the grounds begins a full week before the start of the Championships and, on a daily basis, up to 7,000 people will queue to try and get tickets allocated for purchase on the day.
Merton Council is therefore left with the headache of dealing with the waste from people camping for up to three weeks. Last year they collected 3,000 bags of recycling and rubbish, with a total weight of 16 tonnes. They’re constantly working on a tennis waste management plan that ensures the waste in and around the All England Lawn Tennis Club is effectively collected, recycled or disposed of.
The fact that rubbish at the Championships is never a public relations issue is testament to both the organisers and the local council.