By RAKA 7s Rugby
On 30 November to 1 December in 2018, the two-day Raka 7s Rugby Tournament attracted 64 club level teams from the Pacific Islands.
By division, the tournament attracted a total of forty-eight (48) men and sixteen (16) women’s teams, which was held inside the largest sporting venue in the Pacific Island country region being the ANZ National Stadium in the Fijian capital city of Suva with a total of three rugby playing fields that comply with the national federation – Fiji Rugby Union for the 7s rugby code of play.
A total of 8,000 fans and athletes attended the two-day event.
The main tournament organizing committee is made up of fourteen (14) people who possess prior experience in Rugby and the sporting arena in Fiji. Each of the members are considered specialists for different aspects of the Raka 7s and as such led key functions for;-
- Venue Management
- Technical Officials, Referees and Game Rules
- Team Registration and Player Welfare
- Fan Engagement and Promotions
- Food and Beverage Vendors
This main committee also included a Sustainability professional to ensure that as corporate sponsors, vendors and partners were secured, environmental considerations were discussed then included into the decision making process.
This step of including a Sustainability professional in the main committee, being the first of its kind in the sporting arena was subsequently met with mixed results given the level of infrastructure and support available for specialized initiatives in the country.
Tournament Approach to Sustainability
A key proponent for mainstreaming the sustainability aspect of large sporting tournaments rests with the criteria set by companies for sponsoring such events. In the case of the Raka 7s Rugby Tournament, the main sponsor was Kinton Group International Limited.
The concept of Sustainability was born of the main sponsors desire to make a serious contribution toward ensuring that any sponsorship consideration must be consistent with its business philosophy to deploy sound environmental practices where possible.
Leveraging the inter-cultural & market influence of sports mean that tournaments like these can act as a catalyst for advancing connections between people and the environment that we live and play in.
This will hinge on successfully developing a “Green Sports Play Book” for the business sector which clearly articulates how to influence positive change through sponsorship strategy, financing key waste management initiatives, step-by-step implementation plans and game time check lists to reinforce environmental objectives.
Tournament Organizing Committee
Ahead of the 2018 Raka 7s Rugby Tournament, the main organizing committee met to examine the previous year’s effort and addressed some of the enduring capacity related challenges of deploying sustainability initiatives in the Pacific related to measuring the total waste generated, working proactively with sponsors and vendors to significantly reduce single use plastic materials where possible and increasing the number of rubbish bins and volunteers that champion these initiatives.
The tournament organizing committee therefore agreed to discipline its approach by focusing on the following seven areas:
- The primary focus would be on reducing waste and ensuring that a high percentage of total waste generated during the event will be diverted from landfill.
- Cardboard boxes from supermarkets would be recycled and used for identification tags for almost 1000 athletes, team officials and tournament volunteers.
- The official apparel provider for the tournament, BLK, would be contacted to ensure single use plastic sleeves are not provided with all uniforms and other associated merchandise.
- The venue owner, Fiji Sports Council would be contacted to ensure single use plastic products were not distributed at the ANZ national stadium canteens. These were primarily straws and hot drink lids.
- All P.E.T bottles and aluminium cans would be collected and Coca-Cola Amatil’s Mission Pacific recycle program would receive them.
- Styrofoam and plastic containers would not be used by the food vendors.
- Single use plastic eating utensils and straws would not be used by the official caterer for tournament officials, medical personnel and volunteers.
What Success Looks Like
- At least eighty percent of all waste generated during the two day event was diverted from landfill.
- 93.5 kilograms of cooked food including hot dog buns, roti parcels and vegetable peelings were collected from food vendors inside the venue and transported to a pig farm daily for animal feed in the Navua township.
- 96.4 kilograms or approximately 4282 600ml single use P.E.T drink bot- tles were collected and sent to Coca-Cola Amatil Fiji’s Mission Pacific recycling factory. These bottles are eventually bought by offshore brokers and sent to Asia for recycling.
- 40.7 kilograms or approximately 3292 aluminum cans were collected and sent to Coca-Cola Amatil Fiji’s Mission Pacific recycling factory. These cans are then crushed and purchased by a local scrap metal buyer.
- 40 bins were placed across the venue, an increase of 26 bins, which were secured specifically for the tournament from the Suva City Council
- Public Service Announcements were broadcast via the large digital score board and by the sports commentator alongside clearly labeled rubbish bins.
- All the foil wrappers for snacks such as Bongo, Potato Chips and Twisties were collected then sent to a women’s collective on Moturiki Island in Lomaiviti province for their established art for income project. The coin purses and jewelry made from the wrappers will then be sold at Leleuvia Island Resort.
- Styrofoam and plastic food containers alongside plastic bags and plastic utensils were collected by a waste management export company in the Lami township.
Building Community Legacy
A total of 20 volunteers were recruited from the University of the South Pacific and included those students who were undertaking studies relative to the environment. As members of the WWF Pacific Volunteer program, the “Green Team” were specifically responsible for collecting loose litter at all three rugby fields within the stadium complex and to ensure that all litter was sorted, recorded then diverted from landfill where possible.
The Green Team were outfitted in white cotton t-shirts with an easily identifiable recycle logo that matched the signage on all rubbish bins and ensured fans as well as tournament organizers understood their primary role. At the beginning of each day, the Green Team were briefed on the state of Fiji’s waste management infrastructure, the break down of organic and non-biodegradable waste that enters the country’s largest landfill, data collection from the tournament as well as understanding how to carry out this role independently at other events of scale.
This component of the tournament including t-shirts and daily transport allowance was supported with FJD 2000.00 from the regional intergovernmental environment organization SPREP and the waste management data sheet from the Fijian Voyaging Society, Uto ni Yalo Trust.
Continual Improvement Areas
- Refundable Deposit Scheme: Introduce a refundable portion to food vendors for keeping the zero plastic pledge. This sum should be at least 25% of stall fees and or more than the cost of alternative packaging to ensure compliance. This will en sure vendors have an incentive to participate in this initiative.
- Pre-event Interventions: Track how each vendor will support the tournament by conducting a waste management audit on products and food items will be brought in and or sold on site. Reinforce messaging with vendors to ensure compliance, pre-meetings and progress reports one week before event ensures vendors support sustainability initiatives and all packaging requirements are in place.
- Water: As a precious resource, determine ways to reduce bottled water consumption by providing alternative sources of potable water to athletes and measure consumption for toilets, field maintenance, cleaning and ice baths.
- Promote public transport and other low carbon travel: This involves using the scheduled bus service, bicycles and walking.
- Sports Policy Innovation: Consider new ways to share sustainability initiatives between tournament owners, national sport federations and Olympic Committees instead of media and advertising statements that are geared toward fan engage tournament.
- Community Legacy: by developing a standard toolkit to streamline waste management by green volunteers, focusing on capacity development as well as standardized green messaging signage and broadcast advertising.
- Reducing micro threads in our waterways: Special consideration may be made by tournament owners to ensure natural fibre fabric such as bamboo and cotton are purchased for volunteer, medic, referee uniforms.
- Growing green entrepreneurship: Provide a market space for sale of reusable straws, bags, cups at the venue by local small business owners.
- Supporting healthy choices: Provide access to small business owners from the municipal markets to sell ready to eat seasonal fruits that do not require packaging eg. Pineapple, watermelon, guava and mangoes.