However, such an image has motivated a handful of partners to once and for all prove that sports events and environmental protection may indeed go hand-in-hand, especially within the framework of the Zero Waste Blue project.
Their firm, yet ambitious claim has been proven during various sport events that have been organized in Italy and Croatia in last years. Among these events were one of the most popular meetings of recreational sports enthusiasts such as the bike races King of Učka, 'From Branimir to Branimir', the nordic walk meetings, Ston Wall Marathon and the extremely popular Wings for Life race.
The participants of those events in the last couple of years could have noticed that refreshment stations have abolished the use of plastic bottles, which have entirely been replaced by cups made of biodegradable materials. Also, the snacks that have been offered to the participants have been brought by the local producers, and the importance of environment protection and waste management has been stressed during every sporting event.
- One of the most relevant indicators of our project's success has been an online platform which statistically indicates how particular sport event has benefited from it, especially in comparison to the previously organized edition which was not carried out in accordance with Zero Waste Blue standards – said Luka Vukoša, the project manager from the Agency ZADRA NOVA, adding that the overall amount of harmful waste has decreased lately, but that the awareness has been raised among the local community.
The main goal of the project, which has been financed through the platform of interregional cooperation INTERREG Italy-Croatia, was to analyze the negative impact that public gatherings have on the environment. Simultaneously, one of the wanted results was to prolong the tourist season through sustainable i.e. green sport manifestation on the localities of cultural and natural inheritance. The added value of the Zero Waste Blue project has been to include more disabled people in popular sports events by removing obstacles and ensuring approachability.
As the City of Opatija hosts numerous touristic events, as well as the fact that over 30 percent of the citizens are recreational sportsmen, 'the pearl of Kvarner' has proven to be the ideal project leader for Zero Waste Blue. The project's activities have been carried out in the period of June 1, 2018 until November 30, 2019, in cooperation with the ZADRA NOVA Agency, Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Opatija, Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Economic Development Agency for the Region of Emilia Romagna ERVET, the Italian counties Emilia Romagna, Veneto and Molise, as well as the City of Ancona and the company Veneto Innovations, have successfully finalized the project worth 861.435,70 euros.
- Even though nobody knew each other from before in the project team, we have all very successfully cooperated on the fulfillment of the assigned tasks; that was surely one of the added benefits of this project. The best example of such a conclusion was the final meeting of the project team; the debate had lasted for several hours and we could not have reached an agreement, but after they have served a meal, we have managed to find a solution in a heartbeat – concluded Vukoša.