A game of two halves - and tons of waste

May 21, 2004

When Manchester United and Millwall supporters gather in Cardiff at the weekend for the FA Cup final, probably the last thing on their minds will be their impact on the global environment.

But as the fans count down the last seconds to the final whistle, Cardiff University researchers will have begun counting how much food, drink and energy they have consumed, and how much waste they have produced.

The number of hot dogs, beef burgers, pints of beer, fizzy drinks and the amount of merchandise bought, along with fuel used and litter and pollution created, will all go into one big calculation to work out the "ecological footprint" of the FA Cup final.

Expressed by ecologists as global hectares of "earthshare", the eco-footprint will show how much of the earth's land is needed to provide enough resources to support the event.

It will be the first time such a calculation has been made to measure the environmental impact of a major sporting fixture.

Researchers from Cardiff's Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (Brass) will be working with match organisers at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, firms providing transport and refreshment for fans, and local authorities to gather the information needed for the study.

Brass centre director Ken Peattie said the results could be used as a benchmark to help gauge the environmental impact of future large-scale sporting events, such as the Olympic Games.

"What we discover this weekend will give us a firm base from which to conduct future footprinting exercises for this kind of event," he said.

The researchers will need to carefully balance their calculations to ensure that they do not double-count normal consumption levels.

Professor Peattie quipped: "The scoreline on Saturday might be hard to predict, but... an increase in beer consumption in Cardiff, Manchester and East London is forecast with some confidence."

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