ATP unveils sweeping plastic phase-outs for Nitto Tennis Finals in London

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has unveiled new measures aimed at reducing the plastic waste footprint of its Nitto Tennis Finals event in London this month, in a bid to host its "most sustainable" tournament to date.

As part of a partnership with reusable cup brand StackCup, which will see visitors to the eight-day tournament offered reusable cups for the alcoholic beverages they purchase. In a bid to incentivise reuse, visitors will be offered a discount on drinks when they bring the cups back.

The sporting body estimates that this move will eliminate the use of 50,000 plastic cups during the event, which takes place at the O2 Arena and attracts more than 250,000 visitors per year.

Elsewhere, the ATP has installed several water coolers and water fountains in backstage areas in a bid to encourage media representatives and tournament staff to avoid purchasing single-use water bottles. To ensure that these facilities are used, each member of staff will be given a reusable bottle at the beginning of the event.

“I believe that every organisation must operate in the most sustainable way possible, pioneering new ways to reduce environmental impact and encourage sustainable behaviour,” ATP’s chairman and president Chris Kermode said.

“Making advances in this area is absolutely vital and the changes we’ve introduced at The O2 this year will make a really positive difference by drastically reducing the amount of plastic used and wasted.”  

Aside from attendees and staff, the ATP has also launched schemes to minimise the plastic output generated by the eight players to partake in the tournament – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Kevin Anderson, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and John Isner.

For the first time, the organisation is providing players and their teams with reusable bottles for their on-court soft drinks and replacing disposable water bottles in locker rooms with glass alternatives – a move that has received backing from the ATP Player Council’s vice president and current world number 6 player Kevin Anderson.

“As leading tennis players, we have an important role to play in setting examples and being positive role models for future generations,” Anderson said.  “We are in a fortunate position where we might be able to affect some positive change, no matter how small it might be.”

Sustainable sports

The ATP’s plastic phase-out builds on the similar action from the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which this year moved to ban plastic straws from the Wimbledon tournament for the first time, replacing them with paper alternatives. This move was estimated to have prevented more than 400,000 plastic straws from being sent to landfill.

The moves from the tennis sphere reflect similar actions in the wider sporting sector. The Premier League, for example, recently pledged to eliminate all single-use plastics from its operations and supply chains in the next two years as part of its partnership with Sky. Under the media giant’s Ocean Rescue scheme, the Premier League will also educate young fans on the harm that single-use plastics can cause to environmental ecosystems, with the Premier League Primary Stars programme set to discuss the issue in 15,000 schools.

However, progress on plastics proved somewhat slower at this summer’s FIFA 2018 World Cup, with FIFA producing a waste strategy free from bans on single-use plastic items or specific numerical targets for recycling.

ess on plastics proved somewhat slower at this summer’s FIFA 2018 World Cup, with FIFA producing a waste strategy free from bans on single-use plastic items or specific numerical targets for recycling.

Sarah George

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