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The Schwarz retail group, which also includes the Lidl and Kaufland retail companies, is a contributor to the mountains of packaging waste due to its sheer size and presence. With the PreZero Foundation, the Group is therefore pursuing the idea of an efficient cycle and positioning itself as an active solution provider that assumes extended producer responsibility. Packaging is transferred to a circular economy in order to noticeably reduce the waste of resources along the value chain. One of the foundation's flagship projects is undoubtedly the PreZero Arena in Sinsheim, which was certified as the first zero waste stadium in the German Bundesliga.

Long-standing partnership leads to success

Since the partnership began in 2019, TSG Hoffenheim and PreZero have focused on transparency. In order to create trust and establish comparability, the DIN specification for sustainable waste and recyclables management was introduced at an early stage to ensure independent certification. PreZero initiated this in 2021 and developed it together with partners from business, science and NGOs. It made the vision of zero waste verifiable for the first time. In mid-April 2023, TÜV Süd visited the stadium as the certifying company and finally certified the zero-waste status in the "Bronze" category. At 87%, the requirement that at least 85% of waste be reused, recycled, composted and fermented was even slightly exceeded. The intensive training package for employees, cooperation with the service providers involved and, above all, the introduction of waste separation systems were key elements in this process.

Putting the Green Deal into practice

The official inspection and confirmation by TÜV Süd in accordance with DIN Spec 91436 in 2023 successfully sealed an intensive period for the club - the PreZero Arena is known to be TSG Hoffenheim's venue - and PreZero, the arena's namesake. "The project shows that a lot can be achieved in waste management. Ideally, we would like to avoid waste completely. As this is unrealistic in a stadium, zero waste means that we reduce non-recyclable waste to zero and keep all other recyclable materials in the cycle as much as possible, giving them a new life," explains Thomas Kyriakis, CEO of PreZero International. "As a microcosm of society, the stadium also serves as a role model and sends a signal to politics, business and society as a whole as to how the European Union's Green Deal can be put into practice."

Stadium holds great potential

"We see it as our social responsibility. So we set out very early on to bring the topic of sustainability into the PreZero Arena. The stadium has huge potential here," says Denni Strich, Managing Director of TSG Hoffenheim. "We therefore very much welcome the link between the topic of sustainability and the licensing of professional clubs by the DFL."

It will not stop at bronze

Once the successful certification was confirmed, TSG and PreZero hosted a discussion in the PreZero Arena: "One Goal: Zero Waste. How sport reconciles ecology and economy". In front of around 150 invited guests, Uli Mayer-Johanssen, expert for sustainable corporate and brand management, soccer expert Reiner Calmund, Dr. Andre Baumann, State Secretary in the Ministry for the Environment, Climate and Energy of the State of Baden-Württemberg, and Matthias Horx, researcher for megatrends and founder of the Zukunftsinstitut, discussed how the PreZero Arena can be an example of progress towards a more sustainable future. So it stands to reason that the bronze status achieved should not stop there: The results from TÜV Süd will now be evaluated in order to implement the missing building blocks for silver and ultimately gold status if possible. TSG Hoffenheim and PreZero are thus continuing on their way to making the stadium more sustainable.