Sustainability and India are not two words that you expect to hear in the same sentence. But in Bengaluru cricket circles it is a subject that unites the community. And by community we mean the Karnataka Cricket Association, the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), the Municipal government and the Indian Premier League (IPL). All heavy hitters, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Picture this – at RCB’s Green Game which is a fixture on the IPL calendar each year, the RCB players are kitted out in green shirts made from recycled plastic. It includes Virat Kholi, the captain of RCB who at the start of the match exchanges saplings with the captain of the opposing team and takes a pledge to reduce his personal use of plastic.
There is a crowd of 33,000 fans at any RCB match and at this match they are waving green RCB flags made from cotton with cardboard flag poles.
All of the signage in the stadium is made from fabric.
The dry waste is further segmented into plastic, paper and ‘other’ before it leaves the stadium. The wet waste is fed into a composter and the methane gas that is produced is used in the stadium canteen for cooking.
Spectators have pouches, airline style, attached to the seats in the front on them. They can store their plastics and paper here until one of the hawkers – Zomato, Pepsi – takes the rubbish from them before it goes onto the ground and under the chairs to be mixed with all the wet waste and other detritus.
During IPL, cricket associations are obliged to provide free drinking water to spectators. Most stadiums will have troughs, and a sign saying ‘drinking water’. But it is not something you’d recommend to your loved ones. People wash in the troughs and there is often algae and mould growing around the taps.
Plastic water bottles are a tricky problem to solve, for a stadium and a cricket association that is firmly against plastic waste. Pepsi India is able to track its bottles from the supplier, distributer and then disposal to a recycler. So to a certain extent the circle is closed and it is not ‘single-use plastic’.
Two other solutions that have been trialed in Bangalore are the ‘water wallahs’, and the ‘water kiosk’. The water wallahs carry a backpack with water and a tube filled with plastic cups. They look a bit like gardeners on the way out to spray the lawn with weed killer. If you stop them they’ll provide a paper cup of good water. The problem is that the paper cups are single use and have plastic in them so pose a similar problem to plastic bottles.
The other idea that was trialed was to have a water kiosk, with metal cups chained to the desk. And a sink nearby to wash the cups once used. This is actually a good solution, but many people are hesitant to use a cup that has just been used, not matter how well it is rinsed.
The drinking water issue is a thorny issue, not easily solved.
All the lighting, apart from the flood lights, are run on solar power drawn from the roof the grandstand on the east side. There are plans afoot to add solar panels on the west side as well which would draw enough power to run the flood lights.
When it rains the water is harvested from the pitch and stored in tanks underground.
Trials are underway to compost wet waste and use the gases that are a by-product of the process in the stadium canteen.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, extra bins are provided outside the stadium for the plastic bags thrown away when fans buy either from the food trolleys outside the stadium or they buy the fake merchandise and throw away the packaging!
The Karnataka State Cricket Association has been working with the International Institute of Waste Management (IIWM). The IIWM is now trying to extend its reach to other stadia and cricket franchises in India. At the 2019 IPL Final, fans of the cricket franchises got together and jointly pledged to tackle the issues of waste management and sustainability.
Inspirational stuff …
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