The FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 was not just a great success among fans and players. It was also an important, and successful, trial run for an area that receives little coverage, but is a major organisational priority for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™: waste management.

A sustainability project funded by Coca-Cola, FIFA and the LOC that featured all six stadium operators and 19 waste collector cooperatives working in six states resulted in 70 tons of recyclable material being collected at the June event.

“The project is based around two of the key focuses of Brazil 2014: social inclusion and the environment,” explained Ricardo Ribas, the sanitation and waste management manager of the Local Organising Committee of Brazil 2014. “The participation of the cooperatives means their work will be more valued and respected by the public, and they have demonstrated an amazing ability to work together in organised teams. In environmental terms we are following the government’s National Policy on Solid Waste and focusing on the sorting and correct handling of waste.”

That the LOC has created a management unit especially dedicated to sanitation and waste management speaks volumes about the importance of the environment for the 2014 World Cup. The Confederations Cup functioned as a type of test event for the process. A total of 19 cooperatives and 240 cooperative workers were selected. On days before games, matchdays themselves, and the days after games, the waste collectors performed a pre-screening process by sorting recyclable from non-recyclable waste. In return they received a salary, were given uniforms and personal protective equipment, and the waste they collected was transported to the respective cooperative, where the second stage of the sorting process was performed. The system was a great success.

“We hope that we can improve the operation even more in 2014. We have more time to organise the selection process of the cooperatives, for example, and to train the collectors and coordinate the activities,” Ribas said. “One idea, for example, is that the cooperatives will work more days during the tournament, and not just around the games.”

In the FIFA Confederations Cup, there were notable benefits for both the cooperatives and the environment. These results and experiences will be presented and discussed at the 2nd Sustainability Training Workshop for Stadium Operators, between 7 and 8 November in Recife with the aim to strengthen the cooperation of all key players and ensure effective waste management during the FIFA World Cup. Around 40 per cent of the total waste produced during the FIFA Confederations Cup was separated. According to Ribas, at the FIFA World Cup the aim is to increase this share to at least 80 per cent.

Environmental protection, actions to combat climate change, and efficient waste management are key aims of FIFA and the LOC, and have been central to the organisation of the World Cup and its legacy since the announcement of the Sustainability Strategy of the FIFA World Cup 2014 at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20), in June 2012.

“Our past experience has shown that waste and its management are key sustainability issues for FIFA World Cups," said Federico Addiechi, Head of FIFA Corporate Social Responsibility. "The fact that the Brazilian government has recently introduced comprehensive policies for waste has given even more importance to this topic for 2014. We are very happy about the achievements so far, in particular having been able to work closely with local cooperatives in delivering a more sustainable event.”