Can a tennis competiton reduce waste generation?

Sustainability is a priority for Wimbledon. Throughout the 2019 Championships efforts were focused on four main themes: energy, transport, food and drink, and waste. In 2018, the Club achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status for the Championships for the first time. 

Sustainability at Wimbledon 2019 from Wimbledon.

Power play 

In 2018, the Club achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status for the Championships for the first time. This laid the foundation for it to increase the proportion of waste entering recycling bins in the 2019 season. This year, the organisation invested in new and more clearly branded recycling bins to help visitors segregate their waste correctly – minimising contamination. Waste unable to be recycled, reused, or donated is sent to an energy from waste facility, where it is incinerated to produce electricity for the National Grid. 

Game, Set, Plastic 

A key focus for Wimbledon has been to minimise the number of non-recyclable or single-use products handed out. In 2018, the Club banned plastic straws from the Championships and has installed more than 100, free, tap water refill points across the grounds. This year they went one step further, with all water bottles used by players, drinking cups for visitors, and plastic cutlery made using 100% recycled content.

Old balls, please

Unsurprisingly, one of Wimbledon’s other most sizeable waste streams is tennis balls. More than 53,000 are used annually during the two-week grand slam competition. To divert the used balls from landfill, Wimbledon sells them for GBP 1 each and donates the proceeds to its own charitable foundation. Any remaining balls are graded and then donated to schools and a range of community organisations.

Partnerships for the future

In June, Wimbledon signed up to the United Nations’ Sports for Climate Action Framework, acknowledging the critical need for sport to play its part in ‘helping to implement the Paris Agreement and accelerate the change needed to achieve climate neutrality’. The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has pledged to implement the principles enshrined in the Framework, and is committed to working collaboratively to develop, implement, and enhance the climate action agenda within the sports industry. 

This story shows how Wimbledon supports Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, specifically Target 12.4: “By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse.”

About Wimbledon

Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is regarded by many as the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, since 1877, and is played on outdoor grass courts. Since 2009, a retractable roof has been in place over Centre Court.

Learn more about Wimbledon.