CA-WN 30 May 2024 meeting report

CA-WN 30 May 2024 meeting report

The guest speaker for this meeting was Damon Fox from Northampton Town Football Club (NTFC). We heard from him about the many projects and initiatives undertaken by the club to improve sustainability and for their local community. The meeting was recorded and is available on the CA-WN YouTube channel1.

Damon was especially keen for CA-WN members to get involved in the Cobblers Tackle Food Waste project2. Join as an individual to earn points by taking specific actions on food waste, then join an existing community (e.g. school or business) to earn points for that too. Please share with any young people or football fans in your life – it’s a really fun way to learn about food waste and also be in with a chance of winning some great prizes. More information and resources here

Present: Clare Robertson-Marriott, Claudine Howard, Damon Fox, Ella Sage, Harry Mellor, Jane Wood, Maria Lee, Mick Lorkins, Nana Haja Salif Dagarti, Orianne Neyroud.

Apologies: Alexina Cassidy, Clare Slater, Emmie Williamson, Jonathan Harris, Rupert Knowles

Sustainability at Northampton Town Football Club (NTFC)
Damon shared NTFC’s sustainability impact report for the 2022/23 season3. The club has heavy energy usage and a lot of opportunities for waste, with its facilities often open for events and functions as well as matches. Their aims are:

  • Reduce our impact
  • Raise awareness
  • Drive change

In terms of raising awareness, match attendances are up 65% in the last few years so the club can reach a lot of people to talk about sustainability.

During 2022/23 the club:

  • Set up a sustainability group, members include the club's CEO, the CEO of Northampton Town Community Trust, and the catering manager and stadium facilities officer.
  • Created an action plan. This started with the University of Northampton doing a report to identify opportunities for action.
  • Took part in the English Football League (EFL) Green Clubs initiative. This measures NTFC against other football clubs, especially Forest Green Rovers which is fully sustainability focused, driven by their owner (Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity).
  • Changed waste management provider, so no waste now goes to landfill. The new provider Cawleys is also more local so transport emissions are reduced.
  • Recyclable cup initiative – there is now no single use plastic in the stadium for any drinks.
  • Worked with Carlsberg to install timed pumps which go off when not in use.
  • Held sustainability awareness match days.
  • Did litter picks with the Northants Litter Wombles.
  • Took part in Green Football Weekend4, a national campaign encouraging less travel by players, meat free meal options etc. NTFC's performance was ranked second behind Manchester United, a huge achievement.
  • Won Planet League5 competing with 71 other clubs. This is an online tournament for children which promotes actions such as 4-minute showers and making compost. Actions taken by club supporters and staff saved over 100,000 kg of CO2 in total.
  • Partnered with sports clothing brand Decathlon to redistribute unused stock, for example to children in care, and recently to a group of children from Sudan.
  • Delivered environmental sustainability workshops in schools.
  • Was a finalist in the EFL Green Award last year (and the previous year).

All these actions are primarily driven by Damon, although sustainability is only part of his job! He went on to talk about some specific projects happening now.

Cobblers Tackle Food Waste (CTFW)2
This project is ongoing throughout 2024. Damon showed a video to introduce it, the aim is to reduce food waste through education programmes and campaigns.

The football club measures its own food waste after every game and looks for innovative ways to reduce it. Food waste goes to Cawleys, who process it through an anaerobic digester, which produces energy in the form of methane and fertiliser.

The project works by engaging individuals, families, schools and businesses on an online platform, where they score ‘goals’ by taking specific actions to learn about and reduce food waste, and compete to win prizes. Individuals can join a community which could be your school or business.

There are competitions running throughout the year – the next one starts on 17 June. The CTFW project aims to engage with 1000 households, each one completes a start and end survey to capture current habits and changes made. The data can be useful in other ways - some people don’t have access to food waste caddies, especially if they live in a flat. Understanding if this is a barrier to managing food waste and finding a way round it can give people the chance to avoid waste.

Actions available include:

  • Sharing surplus food with a food bank (suggestions on where to donate are available) or through an app such as Olio.
  • Making soup with veg scraps
  • Buying ‘yellow sticker’ reduced items

Each action is evidenced with a photo to make sure it is actually happening.

As part of the project the club visited five schools in different parts of the county in one week to measure their food waste. The first school visited was throwing away 11.5 kilos of food in one day. A lot of waste comes from younger age groups. But another big source of waste is the cooks making too much which then gets thrown away – in one case 3.5 kilos in one day.

Climate captains6
This is a Europe-wide initiative run by the European Football for Development Network (EFDN). All UK clubs have been invited to take part.

All participating fans have the opportunity to win football boots signed by one of the club captains, by completing a survey to understand what actions for sustainability they are taking and where there might be a need for education. EFDN will use the data to produce a report for the club, which will then run round tables with fans asking what they would like the club to focus on next from a sustainability perspective. Two of these ideas will be implemented at the end of the year.

Other projects

  • Damon is taking part in a relay for Running Out of Time7 which is taking a baton from Ben Nevis to Big Ben. Children in care are taking it to Sixfields stadium from Northampton and then Damon will run a half marathon to hand it over for the next leg.
  • Later this year he will be working with the Amazing Northampton Run8 to create medals from plastic bottles. Damon is going out to schools to collect bottles and raise awareness of waste and recycling opportunities.
  • Also looking at biodiversity around the stadium.
  • Last week the club won another competition – Pledgeball football league. This required fans to complete a survey and pledge what they are going to do. The club will get a trophy and £15k of support to help do even more on sustainability. NTFC is about to sign a sustainability charter through Pledgeball, which includes committing not to fly. They currently do this infrequently but it's good to make the commitment and make fans think about the impact of flying.
  • NTFC are also working to introduce an app (Staxy) for fans to car share to the stadium and provide information about local public transport, Voi scooters etc. Again this offers prizes and incentives to get involved.
  • Damon’s next big running challenge is to run to the Ukraine border to raise money for the Ukraine appeal.


Are the stadium lights LED?
Yes, and all lights are now on a timer so they go off automatically. 

Have you thought about putting solar PV panels on the stand roof?
Yes, but they were waiting for the new East Stand to be built (which is now underway), as this is the best stand in terms of sunlight exposure. There will be batteries as well as solar panels – have had a number of companies in to advise on the set up. The new stand will also include EV charging points and 58 cycle racks.

Any thoughts on solar thermal to heat water for all the hot baths?
Not had a conversation about this yet. Will pick it up although ice baths are now more common! Regarding water use the urinals are on a timer so they only flush after every tenth time used. This has a downside as sometimes it can be a while between flushes so they have now had a company in to look how to deal with the bacteria that can develop. 

Do you do rainwater harvesting?
There is a rainwater butt at the Community Trust and two large rainwater tanks at the stadium, used for watering the pitch.

Have you considered going vegan in the café?
Yes – brought in Eat Curious9 (local vegan food company) last year and now offer meat free burgers. All the food outlets have a vegan option. The meat free burgers are not specifically labelled as such – called  ‘cluckin burgers’ as that is the Eat Curious product name.

Can you say more about biodiversity around the stadium?
Someone who works for Sixfields Travel is a beekeeper so going to put in some beehives to produce honey.
They are also going to turn a patch of grass into a community garden to grow food for the kitchen. This will be run by the elderly adults group that meets every week.
Are looking to get sponsorship for these initiatives if possible.

What are the incentives for people taking part in CTFW?
Tickets for games and team shirts, school visits from players, schools and businesses can win iPads. Final Third (club partners in the project) offering businesses free sustainability training. A school breakfast club that did well in the last competition got a lot of resources to use. The club has had greenhouses donated to give to schools.
Cawleys are going out to 5 schools alongside the club in the next tournament to talk about what they do and 3 schools will going on a trip to look at Cawleys recycling centre. 

How do you get the food waste separated out for the anaerobic digester – experience is that people don’t do very well at putting things in the right bin?
It is a problem – one of the good things about Cawleys is that they separate out the waste after collection. The club is also working to try and raise awareness about why this is important – Cawleys sponsor the club mascot, Clarence the Dragon, and there are videos of Clarence using the bins correctly to try and win over the children.

11 kilos of waste from one school – is that from childrens’ plates, from the kitchens…?
Everything! Took see-through bags and bins to collect up all food waste from all the classes and the kitchens. The worst school had 20.5 kilos of food waste in one day. 

Upcoming events
CA-WN is appearing at the following external events in the next few weeks – please come along to have a chat or if you can, volunteer to help man the stand which would be very welcome.

  • Saturday 1 June - Green Day at Hunsbury
  • Saturday 15 June – Great Big Green Week event at Towcester Watermeadows
  • Saturday 29 June – Billing Family Fayre

We also have a monthly online climate café – usually 3 people share facilitation duties but two of them are standing as candidates in the General Election so we have decided to avoid any appearance of promoting a political party it is best if they don’t get involved this month. Is anyone willing to help share the facilitation role for the next café on Wednesday 12 June?

Our next face to face social gathering will be in late July at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery again, provisionally 20 July, to be confirmed soon.

Check out the What’s On page on CA-WN Exchange for details of these and other local climate and environmental events.

Date of next meeting – Thursday 20 June at 7:45pm.
Speaker is Russell Horsey, arboriculturalist and Urban Forester who is leading the work on WNC’s Tree Strategy.

1 YouTube for recording of meeting

2 Cobblers Tackle Food Waste

3 NTFC Sustainability Impact Report

4 Green Football Weekend

5 Planet League

6 Complete the Climate Captains survey

7 Running Out of Time

8 The Amazing Northampton Run

9 Eat Curious