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Leading the Field: Sport Group’s Sustainable Game Plan with EcoNation

Discover how Sport Group pioneers sustainability in the sports industry and more about the partnership with EcoNation. In this interview, Lisa-Marie Roßkothen shares insights into their ESG roadmap, the essence of circular economy integration, and measurable goals to reduce environmental impact. 

Before we delve into the EcoNation partnership, Lisa, could you provide an overview of Sport Group’s broader ESG roadmap? How does sustainability align with the company’s overall vision and mission?

Lisa: Sport Group has long recognized the importance of sustainable products and took proactive steps by establishing a Research & Development department in 2008 to effectively champion the cause of eco-friendly products. Our commitment to innovation led to significant milestones, such as the development of thermoplastic (recycled TPE) in 2012 and the introduction of PU coated organic infill in 2016. A groundbreaking achievement was the creation of the world’s first CO2-neutral hockey turf for the Paris Olympics, reaffirming Sport Group’s position as a trailblazer in sustainable technologies for sports and leisure surfaces. The integration of ESG principles as a catalyst for internal sustainability initiatives started approximately three years ago. In addition to establishing key ESG KPI’s, guidelines, and goals, we underwent our first Sustainalytics ESG Risk Rating, which already delivered exemplary results – an outcome, which we achieved in the following two ratings as well. Within this year, we are poised to significantly bolster our ESG strategy. Beyond aligning with upcoming regulations (e.g., CSRD, ESRS, LkSG), our focus extends to amplifying Sport Group’s business model and philosophy towards a more sustainable future.

What drove Sport Group to explore this collaboration, and how does it fit into the larger picture of the company’s dedication to sustainability?

Lisa: The promotion of a circular economy is an essential aspect of our business model. With the establishment of our own recycling facility FormaTurf, the entire concept has been elevated to a higher level. Therefore, it is important for us to support this economic model outside of Sport Group, and this is where EcoNation comes into play. Your mission to expand the circular economy on a global scale is one that we are eager to advance together.

Lisa, could you elaborate on how the partnership with EcoNation aligns with Sport Group’s sustainability goals and vision?

Lisa: Our eco-friendly products are pivotal in maintaining our market leadership – a position we of course aim to sustain in the long run. The concept of the circular economy has increasingly become integral to sustainability dialogues within our markets, and as previously noted, we stand as pioneers in this field. Nonetheless, we are committed to fostering and fortifying this concept internally. Engaging our employees is paramount in this endeavor and EcoNation empowers each team member to actively contribute to our ESG targets in a gamified way.

The platform offers real-time tracking, a Monitoring Dashboard, and monthly challenges for community engagement. Can you share specific examples of how these features empower Sport Group employees and cultivate a culture of sustainability?

Lisa: Given our internationality, it presents a great opportunity for us to come closer together as a group through team functions and challenges, which can be achieved through movements such as the World Cleanup Day or internal employee events. Similarly, we aim to broaden understanding of the circular economy through training and workshops, providing our employees with the opportunity to further identify with Sport Group’s philosophy. 

EcoNation Monitoring Dashboard
Source: the fortunate planet (2022)

Are there specific measurable goals the company aims to achieve through this collaboration?

Lisa: We aim to have 50% of our employees actively tracking at least one activity in the EcoNation App, fostering greater involvement in eco-conscious practices within our workforce. Also, through our concerted efforts, we are determined to realize a total reduction of 50 tons of CO2 emissions, contributing significantly to our environmental impact mitigation goals. In addition, our initiative includes the recycling of 25 tons of materials, alongside tracking 1.000 activities focused on recycling, furthering our dedication to waste reduction and resource conservation.

How does Sport Group anticipate the impact of this initiative on its ESG ratings in 2024 and beyond?

Lisa: I believe that our cooperation will have a positive impact on this year’s Sustainalytics ESG Risk Rating. We have a new certificate that we can submit, have significant initiatives in the social area due to new employee events, training and especially the support of Bhutan and can of course make a positive impact, especially in the area of the environment, by reducing CO2 and increasing our recycling rate.

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