Sustainability is no handicap to success

Written By Iain Gulland - Director, Zero Waste Scotland  |  25 Sep 14

Not for the first time this year, the eyes of the sporting world are on Scotland this week, with the Ryder Cup 2014 teeing off at Gleneagles.

Famously, Scotland boasts more golf courses per head of population than anywhere else in the world, and access to golf across the social classes is a very egalitarian tradition here. However, in the past there have been some questions about the environmental impact of so much land being given over to recreation, removing potential habitat for wildlife and introducing the use of pesticides to keep the greens in tip top condition.

The sport is aware of this and efforts to improve its environmental credentials have been impressive, and are on show at this year’s Ryder Cup, being held at one of Scotland’s premier golf resorts.

The Gleneagles event is on track to be a zero waste event, working with contractor William Tracey to deliver sustainable waste management throughout, including extensive recycling provision and signage, so that visitors have the information they need. Visitors will be able to spot bright Recycle for Scotland bins around the course, electric vehicles, biofuel generators and buses.

Re-use of materials is being maximised and local charities will benefit – including through waste wood being given to local charity PKAVS (Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Service) Mental Wellbeing Services, to encourage and enable their members to participate in wood work classes.

Driving this approach has been the Ryder Cup Europe’s Green Drive initiative, part-funded by Zero Waste Scotland, and the expertise of the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO), who provide online training and certification for courses who want to improve their sustainability. We’ve been delighted to work with GEO, whose commitment and credentials in this area have meant we can get right down to business delivering resource efficiency measures at Gleneagles – which has been awarded the GEO Certified™ golf industry eco label, for improvements across all key sustainability action areas: nature, water, energy, supply chain, pollution control and community. 

For the sport of golf, the legacy of such high-profile involvement with an internationally-renowned event like the Ryder Cup is boosting our ongoing work with the industry across Scotland. From our work with St Andrews Links, to help improve their resource efficiency, to our demonstration project on using compost on greens, to our engagement with the hospitality sector, we are showing that embedding sustainability in one of Scotland biggest recreational industries can be done. We’re looking forward to being involved with next year’s Open at St Andrews, and other European Golf tour events held in Scotland. Golf, as an industry, is beginning to lead the way in Scotland in terms of its sustainability practice.

The partnership at Gleneagles with GEO is not just about one week in September. It’s about leaving a legacy which will inspire all of the visitors, golf industry workers and event contractors, who might work across many sectors and industries, and showing them that taking forward sustainable practice is not just ‘greener’ – it’s about putting businesses on a firmer footing for the future too.

The Ryder Cup and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games have been the biggest events in Scottish sporting history and in terms of visitor numbers and experience, showcasing sporting excellence, and incorporating sustainability, are set to be two of the most successful ever. Given the importance of major events to Scotland, we are working to take forward this terrific legacy, with the launch of a sustainable events guide later this year, produced in conjunction with Events Scotland. Sustainability really is no handicap to success for Scotland’s events.

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