• Fixed monthly price • All waste types covered • FREE bins and delivery • Excellent customer support
Qatar has pledged that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be the first carbon-neutral world cup in history – claiming that 60% of the waste produced by the event will be recycled and the remaining 40% converted into energy.
In reality? A gross exaggeration.
Qatar’s World Cup waste claims
Hamad Al Bahr, Director of The Waste Management and Recycling Department at the Ministry of Municipality, targets that “60 percent of total waste must be sorted out” citing that the state is “shouldering big responsibility [for the] mega sporting event”. – source.
He states that a 60% recycling rate is far greater than that achieved at the last world cup hosted in Russia. That is certainly true, with the 2018 Russia World Cup achieving only a 20% recycling rate, 3 times lower than Qatar’s target.
But the goal of a 300% improvement does draw into question the achievability of Qatar’s recycling efforts.
Although, Al Bahr recognises this and concedes that “the target is difficult” but that they have “formed a complete team to achieve the target” adding that they also aim to “transfer the remaining 40 percent of waste into energy” – thus accomplishing the event’s carbon-neutral status.
How is Qatar going to meet its World Cup waste targets?
Al Bahr claims that Qatar has the “Middle East’s largest waste management centre” which will help deliver the waste containers, employee training, and mobile waste transfer stations needed to hit their ambitious targets.
The stadiums will be supplied with green and grey bins to collect recyclable and non-recyclable rubbish accordingly. Whether consumers use these bins correctly, however, remains to be seen.
The dirty truth of Qatar’s World Cup waste
A new report by Carbon Market Watch dispels the boasts of Al Bahr’s net-zero world cup dream. It declares that “claims that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will not contribute additional carbon emissions are completely unrealistic”.
The data available today shows that, contrary to predictions, the Qatari tournament’s climate impact will be unambiguously negative”.
In fact, the carbon footprint of the Qatari tournament could be up to 8 times greater than expected!
So, why is this the case?
Well, one of the main reasons why the 2022 World Cup’s carbon-neutrality claim is so far off is that it has significantly underestimated (or not even accounted for) the emissions associated with the construction of the new stadiums.
7 new stadiums have been built in and around Doha to host the international tournament. Each of these requiring masses of new materials, energy, and other emissions to be built in time.
If the figures included the construction emissions for the new stadiums, Carbon Market Watch suggests that the carbon output of the tournament would exceed 8 times the current figure.
Another factor which draws into question the legitimacy of the net-zero claim is that Qatar has stated that to offset its waste and emission output during the tournament, it will purchase carbon credits to pay for environmental schemes such as tree planting.
However, the quality of these credits is under serious scrutiny. In fact, a new standard of carbon credit was established specifically for the Qatar World Cup – which makes their credibility contentious.
Carbon Market Watch report that “such low-quality credits will not make the World Cup carbon neutral”.
In the heat of the moment
A final feature of the Qatar World Cup that had environmentalists concerned is the fact that the games typically take place in the height of the summer to accommodate for the regular football season.
The reason this was such a concern is that the games would take place in Doha’s sweltering 40+ degree heat. This heat even in the new November/December dates is a real concern not just for players, but travelling fans, and for the logistics of the event.
Whilst solar panels will be used to power water and air chillers in the stadiums, the construction of this technology, in itself, would certainly be detrimental to the environment.
Then, when you take into account the impact the heat will have on transporting players, fans, and equipment to and from stadiums and the excess strain on the environment causes by this (such as vehicle pollutants) it’s difficult to believe in Qatar’s carbon-zero assertions.
The final score
Ultimately, there is evidence to suggest that the Qatar World Cup organisers are going to do a much better job with recycling and waste disposal than seen in previous world cups.
If the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup (recently hosted in Qatar) is anything to go off then reaching the 60% recycling target does look somewhat attainable with the aforementioned tournament recycling 70% of its waste.
However, the claim that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be carbon-neutral is certainly a howler and the Qatari statisticians grossly underestimating the tournament’s emissions ought to be red-carded.
We hope that future estimates for similar sporting events are far more transparent and honest with their environmental figures. We can’t afford to hide or ignore our impact on the planet any longer.
You can read more about world cup waste here.