BASIS CEO Russell Seymour highlights advice on reusables in sport after COVID-19
by Russell Seymour
Millions of pieces of single use plastics have been removed from sports venues and operations – they would otherwise have gone to waste; hopefully recycled, possibly burned, at worst landfilled. The question of whether COVID-19 has put this fantastic progress is at risk because of hygiene and transmission concerns – and their impact on public opinion – has been regularly posed by clubs, governing bodies and venues on our lockdown series of Wednesday Webinars.
Today we have the answer, with nearly 120 Scientists and health professionals from 18 countries released a statement on the use of reusable items in a post-Covid world. There conclusions were clear – that reuse and refill systems are safe to use under all current food safety regulations.
The best plastic waste is the waste that never happens, and reusable products do exactly that. On our webinars, the Kia Oval have updated us on their progress towards becoming single-use plastic free, and there are multiple examples of progress from across British sport.
Such a clear show of support for reusables as we emerge from COVID-19 can give sport the confidence to lock in the progress made and keep building on it. The key message is that, while the evidence shows that it is unusual to catch Covid from a surface, all recommended washing processes will remove the virus. Reusables are easily cleaned, so a clean cup is exactly that (remember that our best defence is to wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap and water – high temperature washes of cups in commercial washers will remove the virus).
Eliminating single use plastic without compromising public safety or confidence remains a realistic, achievable goal for sport in the UK
Our advice is that clubs, venues, governing bodies and everyone connected to the sport supply chain keep following all of the best practice around cleaning and washing, including any new guidance specific to COVID-19. We also suggest a few key additional steps:
1) Where concerns are expressed by spectators, be ready with good communications. In fact, pre-empt the concerns by putting up messaging and briefing staff that reusables are safe (the statement is a good starting point);
2) To protect your staff introduce no-touch collection of reusable beer cups, and be sure all staff have adequate PPE;
3) Where fans can bring their own coffee cup consider no-touch options (e.g. https://www.citytosea.org.uk/contactless-coffee/) and make sure that any water fountains do not allow the bottle to touch the water spout (and follow guidance around the cleaning of contact points);
We can keep each other safe, protect the NHS, keep the planet clean, protect the oceans and reduce costs at the same time – and all-but eliminate single-use plastic from sport.