Representatives of eight-time German champions Borussia Dortmund have received an online petition, signed by some 100,000 people, to switch from the PLA disposable beaker system currently in use at Signal Iduna Park to a returnable beaker system. The man behind the petition is 19-year-old football fan Nick Heubeck, who was present for the handover alongside the German environmental organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH).
In the talks that followed, all of the participants agreed to immediately engage in a dialogue that would ultimately aim to introduce a returnable beaker system. "Our fans in the stadium currently drink from cornstarch beakers, which are recycled in a nearby bio-gas facility after use. However, as the public discussion surrounding plastic waste intensifies and given the increased knowledge we have regarding the environmental footprint of the PLA beaker − extending from raw material extraction to use and subsequent recycling − we're now reviewing the decision that we made in the summer of 2015," explained BVB managing director Carsten Cramer.
In cooperation with Deutsche Umwelthilfe, BVB will over the coming months be laying the groundwork for a beaker system which − without infringing upon any existing contractual obligations − "makes sense from an environmental standpoint and is above all sustainable," said Cramer, who added: "We're prepared to take the path to returnable beakers in order to kickstart something. But our stadium, which is unique not only in terms of its atmosphere, means we face one major challenge: ultimately, the system must on the one hand adhere to the highest ecological standards. But on the other hand it must reflect our efforts to have searched for what is in equal measure the most environmentally and fan-friendly solution for the supporters of Borussia Dortmund. Additionally, the solution must withstand the security concerns in the largest German stadium and in particular in the South Stand, where 25,000 spectators attend each game." In another step towards environmental protection and sustainability, Cramer announced his intention to cease the use of plastic bags in all BVB fan shops in the medium term.
Speaking after the meeting at BVB headquarters, which lasted for more than one hour and was attended by a representative of the BVB Fan Council in Conny Dietz, Nick Heubeck said: "I'm delighted that Borussia Dortmund has shown the courage and greatness to be convinced by my initiative, as well as the expertise and the arguments provided by Deutsche Umwelthilfe, to switch to a returnable beaker system at Signal Iduna Park in the future. Ultimately, we will all benefit from this firm desire to shape our future in an environmentally friendly way."
Thomas Fischer, Head of Recycling Management at Deutsche Umwelthilfe, said: "We'd like to thank Borussia Dortmund for the opportunity to have a direct exchange. It's in our interest to work constructively with BVB and to bring our expert knowledge on beaker systems into the process. We're aware of the fact that the specific situation in Dortmund – in and around the largest stadium in Germany – needs to be considered carefully when it comes to developing an optimal returnable beaker system. We'll be happy to support BVB with this challenge and we'd like to make a contribution to helping the club be one of the Bundesliga's leading lights on an environmental level too by introducing the use of returnable beakers."