FOSHAN OPEN 2019 Sustainability Recognition

Wednesday 31 October 2018

The Foshan Open and GEO Foundation jointly announce a two-year strategic plan for the event to become a GEO Certified® Tournament by 2019. GEO Foundation is an international non-profit organisation, entirely dedicated to supporting sustainability in and through golf – accredited and widely endorsed within and outside the sport. If successful, Foshan Open would be the first pro-tournament in China to receive such an international accolade.

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A major part of the remit of GEO Foundation is to encourage golf facilities to commit to specific programmes of environmental sustainability. Building on the ongoing GEO Certified® status of the Foshan Golf Club venue, tournament organisers and partners will work to meet specific staging criteria spanning planning and communications; site protection; procurement; energy and carbon; access and equity; and legacies. A formal third-party verification will evaluate if the criteria are met.

Speaking as part of a multi-faceted visit to this year’s Foshan Open, which included education of club managers; stakeholder engagement and the promotion of the OnCourse® sustainability program to superintendents, Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of GEO Foundation said: “The Foshan Open has already demonstrated some admirable examples of how it is stepping into social and environmental responsibility. We have seen over the years that the event has always sought to maximize positive benefits on society while minimizing any adverse environmental impacts. With a twelve month plan in place, the team seem to be well set to meet the international standard for Sustainable Golf Tournaments and for the event to take its place among the leading tournaments of the world who have achieved and are striving to achieve this distinction.”

Other events participating include the fully certified 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open; the 2017 RBC Heritage, and with the Scottish Open, Solheim Cup, CJ Cup, US Kids Venice Open, and a number of other events in the process.

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Julian Small, general manager of Foshan Golf Club added.“We’re really pleased that Foshan Open has already made big strides in reducing its footprint on the environment, which matches with the day to day work we do. Our Golf Course Maintenance, Marketing, Operations, Purchasing, F&B and Admin sections are engaging in the OnCourse program and we can already see encouraging on-going improvements across our operations.”

“In 2013 we became only the second golf facility in China to achieve the GEO Certified distinction and we’ve been building on that achievement ever since. So the natural next step up is to work with partners to extend into the Foshan Open itself.”

Alain de Soultret, Director of the Challenge Tour expressed his support: “This is an example of the wider European Tour Green Drive policy in action. We recognize the importance of key environmental and social issues to local communities, to our corporate and government partners, and so we are delighted to support this and make sure the Foshan Open and others across the Challenge Tour take a responsible approach, which adds so much value to the event. Thanks to Foshan Golf Club for making this happen.”

Foshan Open is already well known for pushing the boundaries of how sports events can engage fans, particularly on environmental issues. It staged the highly popular Green Pass programme, in which thousands of fans took part in an environmental adventure around the venue. It followed up this week with the New World Fun Day, an environmental trail that includes lots of fun, games and refreshments and innovative ways for fans to understand and appreciate the environment. Additionally, tournament staff worked on sorting all recyclable materials from the Fun Day with prizes going to the most effective.

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Indeed progress towards the event’s 2019 goal is impressive. OnCourse all trash bins are now of degradable material and there are separate bins for recyclable and non-recyclable garbage. In the marketing are, a there has been a blitz on printed materials with a corresponding move to digital communication. The amount of printed posters, spectator guides, official programmes and coupons has been reduced to half that produced in 2017. Similarly promotion leaflets, car park passes, draw sheets and others have been reduced. Fans are also being encouraged to download digital event passes. Not only that, but whatever is still printed is done double-sided on recycled paper with non-toxic ink and without a film coating which allows onward recycling.

A significant reduction of some 20,000 plastic disposable water bottles has been achieved over the last five years by the event’s operations section by providing players and caddies with refillable bottles that can be topped up from containers at convenient points around the course. 

Even in purchasing, suppliers are required to support the drive to become more sustainable by signing a Sustainable Promise which consists of using recycled paper, online purchasing systems and best efforts to recycle other materials. In addition to using only environmentally friendly ingredients, F&B purchases are, wherever possible, made locally to reduce fuel emission.  Also, only degradable staff lunch boxes are used.

One of the most visible signs of the drive to sustainability is through the admin section’s efforts to reduce gas emissions by introducing shuttle buses and their electric versions in place of private cars, particularly on venue/airport/hotel routes. 

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