PreZero Arena: First zero-waste stadium in the Bundesliga

The PreZero Arena in Sinsheim has become the first European ground to be TÜV-certified as a zero-waste stadium. It is a great success after years of work and serves as an incentive for TSG and sustainability partner PreZero to undertake further climate protection activities. The certification represents a milestone for TSG Managing Director Denni Strich: "This was a great vision for us, we're very proud and happy about it."

In April, an important role reversal took place at the PreZero Arena. Numerous people flocked to the stadium  but this time, it was not to see TSG Hoffenheim live. Across the two days of 11 and 12 April, the stadium itself was the focal point for the visitors. They were there for an important inspection, which was followed by an historic result: the PreZero Arena became the first European football stadium to be certified as a zero-waste arena by TÜV Süd. A milestone for German football and also for TSG Hoffenheim, which impressively underlined its aspiration to be a pioneer in the fight against climate change. Managing Director Denni Strich is proud of the award and said the following on TSG's behalf after the successful audit: "The TÜV certification is a milestone for us. It was a great vision of ours, together with our partner PreZero, to get to where we are now. It's therefore a significant day for us and all the partners involved. We're looking forward to the future and taking further steps."

The huge efforts to protect the climate and minimise non-recyclable waste have been on display for fans for some time. The stadium's transformation into a zero-waste arena did not happen overnight – and consistently called upon visitors to join in the journey and play a part. Colourful separation systems, explanatory instructions and informative elements have long been an integral part of the stadium and they adorn the arena  along with catchy slogans. "Our back three for a clean game" is written on the waste separation boxes, as is the call to action: "You throw in – we transform". In the sorting instructions, visitors are told exactly which recyclable material belongs in which of the three coloured bins. After all, the visitors' involvement is a central pillar. "Zero Waste – everything else is rubbish" is also clearly on show in the stadium and is more than just a well-positioned and strong advert.

Representatives of TSG, PreZero and TÜV Süd came to Sinsheim over the two days to carry out the remarkable certification and around one and a half years of work was rewarded. Afterwards, TÜV inspector Thorsten Gog confirmed the award, which was achieved thanks to great effort and the active support of all partners: "We took an intensive look at whether the standard and legal requirements for recyclable materials are implemented. How is it separated? How are recyclable materials reintegrated into the cycle? How is it recycled? How is it disposed of? The PreZero Arena has fulfilled these requirements and has been recognised by us."

Strich sees this as a reward for the great effort and considerable ambition shown by the partners, who have been acting hand in hand: "The cooperation is very positive on all levels, we have taken every measure. This was the only way that we could achieve this goal. It has developed so well mainly because PreZero and we at TSG had the same vision, we both think the same way. That was positive, both wanted to achieve the same goal. We've succeeded in doing that. It's taken a lot of work, but I think we can now say it was worth it." A widely acclaimed success throughout Germany, but TSG and PreZero do not want to rest on their laurels. Next year, the aim is to have other TSG pillars certified in addition to the stadium, as Strich emphasised: "This was just the start. It shall continue with the club, with the offices and with the Dietmar-Hopp-Stadion. Sustainability never stops. We're looking forward to taking the next steps together with PreZero."

The sustainability partner was also delighted with the certification. After the milestone was achieved Marcus Sagitz, Head of Marketing at PreZero, gave a detailed insight into the work conducted in recent years and the big goal behind zero waste. "This is a unique lighthouse project in Germany. We wanted to achieve something content-driven together with TSG and that was only possible because we thought big. The project went really fantastically and was the result of impressive teamwork between PreZero, the TSG and all the partners such as caterers, cleaning companies and security firms. They are all part of this successful certification, which is what makes this project so special. You can only achieve big things if you tackle them together."

The TÜV certification now confirms the passionate, shared commitment to the environment; for Sagitz, it is an award of great value: "It's extremely important for us that there is an independent audit with fixed standards. We deliberately do not want to slip into the greenwashing corner, but to create transparency and comparability instead. The numerous discussions and the public interest in this project show us that we're on the right track."

And this path is far from over and has no home straight. Because according to Sagitz, one firm principle applies to all sustainability products: "You're never finished. There's always the next project; we're always learning, getting new information and technologies. That's why we will continue to work, improve and expand what we do. The focus is now on extending the concept to the entire club. Environmental and climate protection only works if you are 100% committed to it. Letting this topic slide at some point is not an option. It works if you approach it collectively and with the right attitude, with full commitment and conviction."

What Zero Waste means

The basic principle of zero waste is the complete avoidance of waste. But since this is not possible at events with many visitors, the focus is on reintegrating waste into the cycle of recyclable materials and making it reusable. The best examples are the returnable cup system or the grass paper obtained from the stadium turf, which autograph cards and matchday flyers are printed on.

"We want to close the circle as much as possible. Packaging contents have to be brought to the ground. That's where we need to see how we can incorporate these elements as well as possible so that they are recyclable. That's what the zero waste concept is all about," said PreZero expert Marcus Sagitz, who went on to name the three pillars of the concept: reduce, recycle and re-use.

To celebrate the successful certification, TSG and PreZero held a panel discussion at the PreZero Arena: "One goal: zero waste. How sport reconciles ecology and economy". Sky presenter Britta Hofmann chaired the panel discussion with Reiner Calmund, Uli Mayer-Johanssen, an expert in sustainable corporate and brand management, Dr. Andre Baumann, State Secretary at the Ministry for the Environment, Climate and Energy Management of the State of Baden-Württemberg and Matthias Horx, a researcher into megatrends & the founder of Zukunftsinstitut. They discussed how the PreZero Arena can exemplify the progress towards a more sustainable future.

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