Western Springs AFC

In what is thought to be a first for Auckland football, if not in New Zealand, Western Springs AFC has implemented an innovative new sustainability project that is dramatically shrinking the club’s environmental footprint.

“We’ve grown substantially over the last few years to become one of the football biggest clubs in the country,” Club President Grant Russell says.

“But that growth has also seen increased pressure on our facilities and the local environment. We’ve recognised the need to safeguard that and to do something about it.”

With the help of a passionate club volunteer and a grant from Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation Fund, Western Springs has procured and installed commercial recycling and compost facilities all around its Seddon Fields pitches and clubrooms to complement the existing council-operated landfill bins.

Glass, plastic and aluminium waste is now recovered and sent for recycling while organic waste, including the traditional half-time oranges at junior games, are commercially composted and used to grow new plants and trees.

All the food packaging and takeaway coffee cups sold at the club’s popular cafe are also now 100% compostible.

Since its inception earlier this season, the club’s new sustainability system has diverted more than 10,000L of recyclable waste away from landfill; the equivalent weight of two elephants.

“We’ve always recycled bottles from our bar but this has taken it to the next level by offering recycling options for players and spectators right around our grounds,” Russell says.

“It has taken a bit of a behaviour change but most people are used to sorting and recycling their waste at home these days, so why should it be any different at their football club?”

Western Springs has also stopped supplying plastic drinking straws - one of the most common forms of plastic pollution found in our waterways and oceans.

“Given we’re located right beside Meola Reef, that was a no brainer for us,” Russell says.

Members and visitors alike have embraced the new eco-friendly initiatives and the club has received only positive feedback from the community.

It has also attracted interest from other Auckland football clubs keen to know more about the Springs’ sustainability project.

“We’re really pleased about how it’s working so far and it’s great that it’s captured some attention,” Russell says.

“We’re hoping it will inspire other Auckland sports clubs to take notice and perhaps follow a similar path at their grounds, too,” Russell says.

“We can all do our bit to reduce club-generated waste and be friendlier on our local environment.”