“We want to make our stadium a symbol of sustainability and resource efficiency.”
PreZero and TSG Hoffenheim are breaking new ground together in environmental protection. As the first visible sign of cooperation, the TSG Hoffenheim stadium will be renamed the PreZero Arena for the start of the second half of the 2019 season. TSG Managing Director Dr Peter Görlich and Dietmar Böhm, Managing Director of PreZero, outline their other plans for the partnership in the following interview.
Dr Görlich, Mr Böhm, from now on TSG will be playing in the PreZero Arena. How did this partnership come about? A football club and a waste disposal company do not appear to have much in common at first glance.
Görlich: On the contrary! I think we’re a very good match.
Can you explain to us why it works so well?
Görlich: Of course we are delighted that we were able to sign PreZero as a stadium sponsor for the coming years. But a partnership like this only really makes sense if both sides share common ground beyond just financial support. And that is exactly the case here. For us, PreZero is not just the name of our stadium, but a strategic partner: together we want to make our stadium a forward-looking place for sustainability and resource efficiency.
Why is sustainability an important issue for a football club like TSG?
Görlich: We believe that our prominent position as a Bundesliga club goes hand in hand with a special responsibility. Of course, our focus is, first and foremost, on achieving success as a football team. But we also want to set an example as a club. Football has a tremendous pulling power in this country. We want to use this to confront issues, develop projects and bring about positive change. That’s why we have developed our sustainable future strategy “TSG ist Bewegung” (“TSG is movement”). The issue of ecology plays a major role in the strategy. I’m sure our fans expect this commitment as well.
And that’s where you come in, Mr Böhm.
Böhm: Exactly. Initially we were faced with the question of how we could assist TSG with our expertise as specialists in sustainability and
environmental protection. We therefore analysed in detail what TSG was already doing in this area and where there was still potential for improvement.
What did this reveal?
Böhm: If you look at what the Bundesliga clubs are currently doing in terms of sustainability, then TSG is already doing very well by comparison. We want to help TSG get all the way to the top.
Görlich: I can only underline that. We want to be in the Champions League in terms of sustainability.
An ambitious goal. How do you intend to achieve this?
Böhm: There’s no one overall solution, but many individual measures which, taken together, achieve success. It starts with the little things: for example, we advised TSG to change the layout of the bins in which the cleaning staff dispose of rubbish after matches. Previously the bins for residual waste were at the front. This meant that there was a temptation to throw everything in there straight away. Now it’s the bins for cardboard and paper that the cleaners get to first, with residual waste right at the back.
And that has made a difference?
Böhm: You bet! People are creatures of convenience. Incidentally, our people took the time to analyse the waste that is generated in the stadium on an average match day. 60 per cent of what currently ends up in residual waste and is incinerated could be recycled. 60 per cent!
Görlich: In our initial meetings, the PreZero team were already presenting us with an impressive list of points that we could improve. These range from energy generation and mobility to waste disposal. We can also meet our responsibilities even more effectively by making our activities in this area more transparent. Some of them we are already implementing, others we will tackle together in the coming months.
What are you doing to make TSG and the stadium more sustainable?
Görlich: The spectators can already see some of the things we’re doing. For example, we no longer just throw away grass cuttings – they now get processed into paper. We are planning to make our autograph cards out of it – among other things – so the fans will get something out of it, too.
Böhm: For mineral water, we are already using the “Saskia” bottle from the Schwarz Group, which is made primarily from recycled material. We have switched from styrofoam cups for mulled wine to recyclable cups in the arena. And biogas could be produced from organic waste.
What about energy generation?
Görlich: The solar installation on the carport already generates enough electricity to cover the daily requirements of the neighbouring facilities around the PreZero Arena. We are constantly thinking about new possibilities, in terms of waste disposal, for example, or energy supply for the home games in the PreZero Arena and the meaningful use of space around the arena on non-match days.
Speaking of transport: do you have any ideas, Mr Böhm?
Böhm: Yes, absolutely. At the Schwarz Group, for example, we have introduced an app that enables our employees to team up to form carpools. This could be transferred relatively easily to TSG in order to reduce the traffic to the home games.
Do you also involve the team in these initiatives?
Görlich: Of course this is also something we raised within the team, who responded with overwhelming approval. Our players are incredibly reflective, and of course aware of the relevance of sustainability. Our coach Julian Nagelsmann is always championing the conscious use of resources and speaks publicly on the subjects of the environment and climate protection. These young athletes are well aware of their role model status.
Does that also help them as athletes?
Görlich: Many of the players are involved in sociopolitical causes off the pitch. Either they have their own initiatives or they support those of the club. This definitely has something to do with identification, and therefore also motivation. Ultimately everyone benefits: team, club, environment.
Mr Böhm, is there anything you could learn from TSG at PreZero?
Böhm: Absolutely. Football is a team sport. A single player can achieve great things, of course. But ultimately you can only win as a team. Team spirit, fairness, an absolute determination to win – these are all values that are important for us as a company. In this respect, there are many parallels.
With PreZero, you are a newcomer in your industry –
Böhm: You could say that. It was certainly impressive to see how TSG managed to establish itself in the top group of the Bundesliga within just a few years. This is what we want to achieve with PreZero in our industry. But in our case, only the name and positioning are new. We are backed by the Schwarz Group and the waste management company Tönsmeier, which we recently acquired, and these are no beginners – on the contrary: I think with our 90 years of experience in waste management and retail, and the strength of the Schwarz Group behind us, we are in a good position to achieve our goals.