The FA goes for goal with five-year sustainability strategy

The FA has been a pioneering force in sustainability, developing its first strategy in 2009 / Credit: Wembley Stadium, The FA
The Football Association’s five-year strategy marks a new phase in its sustainability efforts, says Ruaidhri Dunn, Head of Procurement and Sustainability

Originally formed to write the rules for what would become the global ‘beautiful game’, the FA now not only runs the football league and world-famous FA Cup but also has considerable social responsibilities – from promoting inclusion and diversity to tackling racism.

The FA has also been a pioneering force in sustainability, developing its first strategy in 2009, Wembley Stadium was the first sporting venue to achieve the Carbon Trust Triple Standard in 2014, and achieved certification to ISO 20121 for its event sustainability management system in 2019. That was re-certified in 2022.

Recognising that the large-scale events that take place at Wembley Stadium can have negative (and positive) impacts on people and the planet, The FA developed an event sustainability management system (ESMS) based on international best practice. 

This aims to maximise the positives (such as job creation in the local community) and minimise the negatives (such as energy usage and waste), and examines:

• Energy & Climate Action
• Waste
• Water
• Transport
• Charity & Community
• Transparency & Communication
• Procurement 

FAST – The FA Group’s Sustainability Team was launched in 2018 and is made up of employees from all areas of the business who share a passion for sustainability – from waste reduction to wellbeing. FAST won the Sustainability Team of the Year 2020 in the Sports Business Awards.

Many sustainability achievements have already been made. The FA joined the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action, developed a carbon reduction strategy for Scope 1 and Scope 2, reduced energy consumption at Wembley Stadium by 40%, and now provides 100% renewable electricity to all FA sites.

Waste management has also been impressive, with Wembley being a zero-waste-to-landfill venue since 2010. Now 30% of waste is converted to energy, with the remaining 70% being recycled.

Many sustainability achievements have already been made

Now, The FA has unveiled a new five-year manifesto called Playing For The Future as it looks to build on the solid foundations it has created in the past 15 years.

How the FA is Playing For The Future

Extensive consultation took place with stakeholders and environmental experts, and Playing For The Future focuses on three main areas:

1. SHOOT FOR NET ZERO – fight climate change and reduce emissions

The aim is to achieve net zero status by 2040, and working towards halving CO2 emissions by 2030, and cutting electricity usage by 30% and gas consumption by 20%.

2. SAVE OUR RESOURCES – optimise resource consumption

Reduce resource consumption across Wembley Stadium and St George’s Park. Minimise the impact of waste through procurement choices, avoiding waste, identifying reuse opportunities and maximising recyclability. Water consumption will be cut by 30% by 2028.

3. MAKE AN IMPACT – deliver and govern change across football

The FA is in a unique position to drive wider environmental and societal change across clubs, leagues, and with partners. The strategy will ensure FA partners are aligned and committed to the sustainability ambitions.

The FA's new five-year manifesto aims to build on the solid foundations it has created in the past 15 years

“The climate crisis presents one of the most significant challenges of our lifetime, and we are determined to play our part in inspiring positive and meaningful change,” said Mark Bullingham, The FA’s Chief Executive. 

“Through our five-year commitment, we want to make tangible progress through our own sustainability initiatives, while raising awareness, and bringing the wider football community with us on this journey.

Ruaidhri Dunn, The FA’s Head of Procurement and Sustainability, added that they are proud of their achievements in recent years to become more environmentally friendly, but Playing For The Future marks a new phase in their sustainability efforts.

The strategy will be reviewed and updated every two years. 

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