Anyway, it happened. As someone who extensively studied Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)—especially as it pertains to the environment and climate change—my ears perk up when I hear Liverpool are doing something along these lines. In the Venn diagram of my interests, it really hits the sweet spot.
And yet, I’m always slightly disappointed. Not in the actions the club does or does not take—actually, they seem to be doing better than your average corporate overlords in this regard—but the fact that their overall CSR policy is vague, ill-defined, and not terribly well publicized. If the major accusation leveled at environmental CSR is “greenwashing,” (i.e. making environmental accomplishments sound better than they actually are), Fenway Sports Group (FSG) and Liverpool seem to be doing the opposite.
As such, you could be forgiven for missing the news yesterday that Liverpool have a new corporate partnership with the Australian food waste management firm Iugis.
Admittedly, I’m not an expert on this technology, food waste, or this firm, but it seems to be a genuinely exciting development. According to the press release:
The club will use Iugis’ innovative food waste solution, recycling food waste by breaking it down into water.
As part of its Reds Go Green initiative to become more environmentally friendly, the club have installed Iugis’ innovative organic food digester machines at Anfield. These pioneering machines use microorganisms and oxygen to transform food waste into water on site, reducing the need for off-site transport and diverting it from landfill.
Now, it isn’t exactly “water” that will be produced. I wouldn’t recommend drinking it! But after digging around for a bit on the Iguis site, it seems that they’ve created a process wherein microorganisms act to create an “artificial stomach,” essentially digesting the organic substances into liquid waste, which can then be directly flushed into Anfield’s waste pipes, and on toward the city’s waste treatment facilities.
The problem of food waste is massive. It is estimated that the amount of food wasted worldwide is enough to feed a third of the population. Moreover, it contributes roughly 8% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, and is therefore a driver of climate change.
This solution greatly reduces the amount of untreatable food waste coming out of Anfield, cuts out the need for transportation to waste treatment facilities by truck, and the amount of waste that ultimately ends up in landfills.
In short, it does not reduce the total amount of food waste at Anfield, but it produces a better, more sustainable, more easily treated end product.
Liverpool’s managing director and chief commercial officer Billy Hogan says that this is part of a broader strategy to make the club more sustainable. Given this and other recent-ish initiatives, this seems to be the case.
“We’re committed to becoming more environmentally friendly and have made positive strides towards becoming a truly sustainable club,” Hogan said in the press release. “This partnership with Iugis is another step towards meeting this goal and will help us better manage our food waste.”
As I said, it seems like the club are on the right track. They could do more. We all could. But this appears to be a big step in the right direction.
However, going forward, I would really like to see an easy-to-access annual CSR report for FSG and Liverpool, one that outlines their strategies for lowering their carbon footprint, and highlights steps already taken. If they are serious about their CSR goals—not just environmental, but also labor, anti-corruption, and human rights—they need to be more transparent so they can be held accountable if and when they fall short of their goals.