Closing the Loop
Yas Marina Circuit, Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Yas Marina Circuit is the venue for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The event is held on an annual basis receiving 60,000+ visitors over 4 days.
Over the last decade Yas Marina Circuit has implemented a number of initiatives to improve the sustainability of its venue and events. In 2019 Yas Marina Circuit began working with DGrade to find a sustainable solution for plastic water bottles and cups used during the Formula 1 event. The key goal was to maximize the recovery of PET plastic and close the loop by recycling the plastic into staff uniforms.
DGrade worked with Yas Marina Circuit to identify the most efficient strategy for the collections including placement of bins, recycling display, training facilities management teams, and logistics. DGrade managed the full recovery process and audited the plastic collected.
- Maximising PET plastic recovery
Recovering any type of recycling from events can be extremely challenging. Facilities need to be in place to ensure plastic is collected, segregated, and recycled. Recovery requires the combined efforts of visitors and venue staff to participate in recycling by placing the plastic bottle/cup in the recycling bin which is often not a priority.
- Contamination in recycling bins
Contamination can come in many forms whether it’s food waste, paper, cans, or glass. The more contamination in a recycling bin the more difficult it is to recycle. Contamination can be a health hazard for staff during processing and can cause damage to recycling equipment. In cases where a bin has a lot of contamination all of the material including the plastic in that bin or bag will go to landfill instead of being recycled.
- Ensuring plastic is recycled into new products
Getting the plastic into the recycling bins is not a sustainable solution in itself. To be sustainable the plastic must actually be recycled into new and useful products, so it’s important for organizations to know what products their plastic is being recycled into. DGrade offer all different types of products from uniforms to merchandise and accessories that would otherwise have been made using virgin materials. Closing the loop reduces waste from landfill and prevents new resources from being expended.
To meet Yas Marina Circuit’s goal DGrade developed a 360 degree approach, addressing and finding solutions to the various challenges involved. The recycling initiative was implemented as part of
DGrade’s Simply Bottles recycling initiative which has been running in the UAE since 2017. The plastic collected through the Simply Bottles initiative is recycled by DGrade into clothing and other products. There 4 key components to DGrade’s 360 approach.
- Establishing Facilities and Processes to Maximize Recycling
To develop an effective and efficient recycling process DGrade:
- Assessed the venue’s plastic recycling needs considering the layout of the venue, location of refreshment stations, and number of visitors.
- Installed 110 Simply Bottles recycling bins around the venue in highly visible, high foot traffic locations.
- Limited contamination by installing signage and Simply Bottles recycling bins that clearly stated the bins are for PET plastic/ water bottle recycling. Recycling bins are transparent making it easy for everyone to see what should go into the bin, and what was in the bin.
- Provided transparent bin liners with the Simply Bottles logo ensuring easy segregation at back of house, limiting the chance of recycling being confused with general waste and thus not being recycled.
- Established a process with Yas Marina Circuit facilities team to empty recycling bins and replace bin liners when full, and store at an agreed storage area.
- Counting and weighing the bin bags to audit the process.
- Education & Engagement to Drive Participation in Recycling
Installing recycling bins on their own is not enough to maximize recycling therefore a key part of the Simply Bottles initiative is to focus on education, training and engagement which involves venue facilities staff and visitors at the event.
DGrade trained the Yas Marina Circuit waste management team, who were supporting the recycling program,to limit contamination and ensure a smooth process from recycling bin maintenance to storage at the collection area.
To encourage visitors to participate in recycling at the Formula 1, DGrade set-up two information stands.
DGrade employees asked visitors to recycle and explained to them that Yas Marina Circuit and DGrade were working together to produce uniforms from the plastic collected. The response from visitors was very positive and many came back to the stations to recycle their own plastic and in some cases plastic they had collected from other visitors. DGrade took video and photos throughout the event which were posted on social media pages further spreading awareness of the initiative.
- Recycling Audit
Throughout the day the full recycling bins were emptied and taken to a central storage area. At the end of the event the plastic was collected and weighed by DGrade providing an audit to Yas Marina Circuit; approximately 72,000 plastic bottles were recovered from the event.
Due to the high number of independent food concessions it was difficult to calculate the exact number of plastic bottles consumed during the event, however based on we estimate we collected at least 50% of PET used at the event.
- Closing the loop with Sustainable Products
After the event DGrade met with the Yas Marina Circuit procurement team to address a sustainable alternative for their staff uniform requirements. DGrade worked with the team to develop customized uniforms consisting or woven twill trousers, woven poplin shirts, and knitted pique polo shirts – all made from recycled plastic bottles. In this way Yas Marina Circuit was able to close the loop by having uniforms made from recycled plastic, thereby saving plastic from landfill and reducing their reliance on new resources.
72,000 plastic bottles (type 1 PET plastic) recovered from 2019 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 event in December 2019 and diverted from landfill.
1,705 pieces of sustainable Yas Marina Circuit staff uniforms including trousers and shirts produced with DGrade’s sustainable Greenspun® yarn made from recycled plastic bottles in December 2020.
Reduced reliance on resources Sourcing uniforms from DGrade saved 100% oil, 50% energy, 20% water, and produced 55% fewer carbon emissions compared to Yas Marina Circuit purchasing uniforms made from conventional polyester yarn.
Yas Marina Circuit was able to meet its goal of increasing plastic recycling and closing the loop by having uniforms made from recycled plastic. Staff training and visitor engagement played key roles in ensuring good recycling rates and similar consumer facing activities will be implemented by DGrade for future events.
Yas Marina Circuit’s partnership with DGrade is ongoing and though there were no spectators at the Formula 1 in 2020 due to the pandemic, DGrade worked with Yas Marina Circuit to collect and recycle plastic used by staff and visitors to the event in December 2020.