Sustainability scrum: A green guide to the Six Nations in six graphs

Wales comes out on top for recycling rates, France is dominating electric car sales and Scotland is leading the pack on emissions reductions. But just how sustainable are the Six Nations?

It may be Europe's premier rugby tournament, but the Six Nations has never been just about the rugby. It's about bragging rights, national pride and one-upping the Joneses (the metaphorical neighbours, not the Welsh national team).

So for the perennial rugby underlings, we could have some good news. This is a chance for redemption. You can now brag about your recycling rates even as your team is getting pounded into submission on the field.

We've graded the nations on a variety of green performance indicators such as emissions reductions, electric car sales and waste disposal. The winner in each category earned six points, with second getting five points and so on. Finally we tallied up the points to crown our inaugural Sustainability 6 Nations Champion...

Wales boasted the UK's most proficient recycling system, and the fourth best in all of Europe. Since 2001, the Welsh Government has allocated £607.5m to local authorities to help them deliver against recycling targets, on the way to zero waste to landfill by 2050.


Italy has the highest water use of the six nations here, but also one of the highest in the world. Alongside its hot, dry climate, Italy's passion for pizza and pasta could be driving water consumption.

As ludicrous as it sounds, UNESCO has carried out a study on the topic and found the water footprint of Italian pasta amounts to about 3.2bn cubic metres a year. Likewise a single margherita pizza has a water footprint of 1216 litres. 


Although this graph dates back to 1990, even the latest figures show that Ireland is struggling to reduce emissions. Greenhouse gas increases were recorded across the Agriculture, Transport and Household sectors in 2013. The concering factor here, is that the Agricultural sector alone accounts for a third of all Irish emissions. The recent uptick was reportedly driven by growing numbers of cattle.


This was Scotland's worst scoring category by some margain. The thirst for energy can be explained by the country's relatively high consumption in the industrial and commercial sector and higher domestic energy consumption, due in part to the colder climate.


Scotland's renewables dominance is well documented on edie. Wind power alone, provided enough energy for 98% of Scottish households in 2014. A recent report from WWF Scotland suggested the country could be powered almost entirely by renewables by 2030, with no need for gas, coal or nuclear power stations.


France's dominance in this category is driven by government subsidies and electric car sharing schemes in many French cities. The good news for the UK is that sales took off in the second half of 2014, taking total electric vehicle sales to more than 7,000 for the full year.


The results are in...

And Scotland wins it in a nailbiter! The folks north of the border were top scorers on reducing emissions and renewables production. If only the team on the field had so much energy...

Brad Allen


| renewables | Scotland | zero waste


Water | Waste & resource management | Energy efficiency & low-carbon
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