European clubs taking green-friendly measures
With billions spent on upgrading old venues or building new ones ahead of the Olympics and World Cups, the Metro has taken a look at how some eco-enthusiasts are aiming to raise the bar.
Paul Whitehouse and Plymouth Argyle loyalists are not the only fans who could be singing ‘Green Army’ after a European football giant leapfrogged England to sit top of the eco-friendliness league table.
Some 2,000 new seats being installed at the ground of Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam are the first to be made from 100 per cent renewable sources. They are known as ‘sugar seats’ or even ‘sweet seats’, because they are made from sugar.
They conjure images of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory yet they feel the same as any other. nyone tempted to take a bite at half-time might end up resembling Nobby Stiles – without his false teeth.
The Brazilian company behind Ajax’s green revolution hopes to have similar ‘sweet seats’ installed when their country stages the World Cup in 2014. And they are looking out for English partners to fit similar eco-friendly facilities in Britain.
The London 2012 Olympics organisers admit the 80,000 seats in Stratford’s new Olympic Stadium fall short of such standards. Those lucky enough to have tickets for the London Games will plonk themselves on run-of-the-mill plastic, made at a factory in Luton.
Yet, as other green innovations appear at venues such as the Olympic Stadium and the new Wembley, it is no longer enough for designers just to craft clear sight lines and intimidating atmospheres.
Instead, the urge to show ‘sustainability’, and boost planners’ right-on credentials is playing a fundamental role in what today’s stadia look, feel and even sound like.
Non-league Dartford FC have perhaps become English football’s eco pioneers, with a £6.5million stadium described as Britain’s greenest. Solar panels power most of the ground’s hot water and under-floor heating while its roof is turf covered.
Ajax’s ‘sugar seats’ are also the first made entirely from renewable sources – without the draining use of fossil fuels such as crude oil or gas. While fans may notice little difference, the developments could not only do a little bit to help save the planet but also save money.
With crude oil prices soaring above $100 a barrel this year any plastic-making process that manages to do without it could appeal.
Brazilian chemical firm Braskem believes it has the solution, made at the world’s first, and now biggest, ‘green plastic’ production factory in Triunfo, in the southern-most state Rio Grande do Sul. A similar plant in Brazil, planned jointly by Dow Chemical in the US and Japan’s Mitsui, is not expected to be ready until 2015.
Rather than using fossil fuels, Braskem’s plastic, known as ‘green polyethylene’ comes from a renewable source – sugarcane ethanol.
Brazil and the US produce 88 per cent of the world’s ethanol which can be used as a petrol replacement. It is also made from potatoes but some types of American wild grasses and sawdust chippings from the timber industry are high energy alternatives.
The first 2,000 ‘green plastic’ seats will be installed in Ajax’s Amsterdam ArenA in the coming months, after a pact was agreed last week. The club and the company hope all 54,000 at the venue will be made from renewable sources within two years, with other products and packaging uses to follow.
By 2015, the stadium will be ecologically neutral, without any carbon gas emissions.
Marcelo Nunes, Braskem’s renewable chemicals director, told Metro he wanted to hold talks with both 2014 World Cup organisers and English clubs. “Once people see what’s being done at the Amsterdam ArenA, hopefully we can develop more projects across Europe,” he said.
“We know modern society has a desire for more environmentally friendly products, but crude oil prices nowadays also make our way more competitive. The only differences are the raw materials used in production.
“We’re delivering a solution which is much more sustainable, but to sit on the seats is just the same.”
That may be of little comfort if you’re watching your favourite team or athlete getting beaten. But sitting pretty on the eco-friendly high ground could mean a moral victory at least.
From the Metro