Dedicated to sustainability and responsible commercial practices, Sports & Leisure Group respects the United Nations Global Compact. Sports & Leisure Group requires its suppliers to maintain a corporate policy that will respect the commitments of the United Nations Global Compact by applying in their company and to their own suppliers the ten principles of the Global Compact listed below, which the supplier undertakes to abide by the following rules:
In 2021 we were evaluated by Ecovadis. an online assessment platform which rates companies based on their sustainability management system. The result placed our sustainability efforts into the top 3%, awarding us a Gold medal for our efforts.
Ecovadis: A comprehensive sustainability rating tool
Ecovadis measures the quality of an organisations sustainability management. To do this they take into account the policies, actions and result around sustainability and scores them according to their efforts. If the quality of the management system is high enough the organisation is awarded a medal. There are four possible medal categories:
- Bronze: Top 50%
- Silver: Top 25%
- Gold: Top 5
- Platinum: Top 1%
Sustainability is more than just the environment
Sustainability is a very broad and interconnected subject, as a result it is important to not just focus on one aspect, but to look to the sustainable efforts as a whole. Because of this Ecovadis has four main categories it includes in its assessment of a company:
- The environment: Very important in determining the score
- Social aspect: Very important in determining the score
- Ethical procedures: Important in determining the score
- The supply chain of the company: Less important in determining the score
In 2022 we joined the sustainability Network The Shift. The Shift is a network in Belgium that brings together more than 500 different types of organisations from different sectors with the goal of working together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and become more sustainable as an organisation and society as a whole.
On the international stage The Shift functions as the Belgian national contact for several other big international organisations focussed on sustainability (such as CSR Europe, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and B Lab Europe). It also functions as the local network for the UN Global Compact (which we joined in 2021).
The Three core pillars of the organisation are:
- Connect: Making bridges between different sectors and organisations, governments and businesses
- Commit: Strive to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- Change: Develop innovative business models to change society for the better
We decided on joining the Shift because it is the largest sustainability network in Belgium and it will help us connect with other important players in the field of sustainability. It also helps us to, once again, show our commitment to sustainability and to get ever better at producing without polluting.
The UN Global Pact
Sustainability has become a more and more important topic over the years. In the past only profit was important for a business, but nowadays society demands a more wholesome approach to company life. We do this by not only focussing on the bottom line, but also keeping our impact on the environment, our employees and society as a whole in mind. This approach to business has been dupped: Social Corporate Responsibility or CSR.
To underline our commitment to CSR we have joined the UN Global Compact. An added benefit of supporting the UN Global Compact is that we also support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as a whole.
The ten principles stated in the UN Global Compact are the following:
One pillar of the UN Global Compact covers Human rights, and urges businesses not to turn a blind eye towards violations of these rights. More than that it obliges us to actively promote and protect these rights because they form a fundamental basis of an equal society. Sports and Leisure Group wholeheartedly supports this message. We believe that every employee should be treated with respect and has the right to be free from abuse or harassment, whether it be physical, psychological or sexual.
A second pillar of the UN Global Compact targets Labour. We want to abolish compulsory labour, including – but not limited to – slavery, indentured labour or bonded labour. Sports and Leisure group believes that no one can be compelled to work by force, thread or intimidation. Labour should be a free choice of the employee and he or she should be properly compensated for their contribution. It is for the same reason we will not support or profit in any way shape or form from child labour, children deserve the right to grow up free and with education instead of being forced to work.
We also support the right of our employees to band together in associations and their right to bargain collectively. If this right is restricted under law, we will investigate the possibility of developing parallel means for independent and free association and bargaining, in order that our employees have the means to stand up for themselves and their rights.
Lastly we will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, nationality, political opinion or social or ethnic origin. We strive to help the world become a better and more equal place, where superficial differences no longer hold sway over the lives of millions of people. To this end the Sports & Leisure group will endeavour to offer all its employees a fair chance and to not be treated differently – either positively or negatively – based on things out of his or her control.
We believe that workers have the right to work in safe environments, it is for this reason that we are also committed to limiting the incident and accidents happening in our production process. We have continuous improvement systems in place with the aim of monitoring incidents that do occur and how we can prevent these in the future. Not only this but we are also invested in training our employees, not only initially but also throughout their career.
The third pillar of the UN Global Compact might be the most obvious one of them all: the environment. When people think of sustainable development they often mainly consider the environment, but this is only one aspect of sustainability; yet it still plays an important role in our sustainable strategy. When we signed the Compact we committed ourself to adopting a cautionary approach to environmental challenges, to undertake and support initiatives aiming to promote environmental responsibility and to help develop environmentally friendly technologies.
We have thought about our impact on the environment for longer than we have been members of the UN Global Compact. Already back in 1996 we started to work in accordance with the ISO 14001:2015 standard, and since then our consideration for the environment has only grown. To further reduce undesirable environmental effects of our activities we strive to minimize our use of energy, raw materials and our production of waste and pollutants. We are vigilant every day in our search for new opportunities with which to further decrease our negative environmental impact.
Through our actions and commitments we will help several SDG, particularly SDG 12 (Responsible production) is one we will focus on. As stated, one of our objectives is to minimize the amount of raw material we use in our production process. By working more efficiently and recycling we can keep producing the necessary amounts of artificial grass while still lowering our environmental impact. We’re not only trying to limit our use of resources by becoming more efficient, but also our production of carbon dioxide, which will indirectly help our oceans to become less acidic (SDG 14).
Not only we, but also our main suppliers are looking into ways with which to decrease our impact. This by doing research into recycling and biodegradability. This way we also contribute to SDG number 17 which promotes partnerships in order to achieve the sustainable development goals. We know that S&L group cannot do this on its own and needs help from other experienced and influential actors in the industry. When it comes to sustainability there are no competitors, only collaborators.
To further prove this point we have invested into creating a 100% circular recycling plant that will be capable of extracting new high, quality raw materials from old artificial turf. This way everyone benefits.
The last pillar of sustainability covered in the UN Global Compact focusses on corruption, more specifically the removal of corrupted individuals and practices, like extortion and bribery. We will not tolerate anything or anyone corrupt in our business, we are totally committed to acting in an ethical and professional manner. No one in our organisation is exempt from this pledge, not the directors, nor the interims. In case someone does engage in this type of activity it is basis for the immediate removal of our employment.
By working in an ethical way, and expecting the same from the people working with us we can make the world a more just place, as well as help institutions remain strong (SDG 16). By demanding the same from the people working for and with us, we can create a partnership that helps everyone involved stay on task (SDG 17).
Strenghten 5 Features
Thinking rigorously about sustainability and acting on its associated factors will almost automatically help our organisation increase our integrity. People will be certain that we do what we say and won’t just blow hot air. These principles will also help us keep the entirety of society in mind instead of only the bottom line. They will remind us that a business cannot truly thrive while the rest of the world is slowly deteriorating.
By directly asking a commitment of our leaders the Compact has also assured that they are intimately included in the discussion and can help drive positive change, instead of standing in its way. At the same time the yearly reporting obligation will help the organisation become more transparent to all stakeholders.
Lastly the compact encourages businesses to band together locally to tackle social problems together and to help one another further develop their sustainable business practices. It does this by creating Global Compact Local Networks, which the signatories can rely on to help one another tackle the difficult problems of sustainability.
Constantly reusing new raw materials goes against one of the basic principles of sustainability and the conscientious use of limited resources. It is for this reason that we worked together with GBN to try and start to resolve this problem in the artificial grass industry. GBN now has a recycling plant in the Netherlands where we can bring our old used artificial grass mats to, and they will be recycled as best as possible. At the moment this means that old mats go in and three new resources come out: circular sand, circular infill and circular agglomerate.
The process is as follows, first we collect the mats at the original site. We do this by rolling them up and then transporting them by truck to the recycling plant. Once the mats are here we sort them by kind; for instance football grass mats are collected together, and so are hockey mats, tennis mats and so on. After this, the actual recycling process starts and the first step is to separate the grass mat itself from the sand and infill it contains. The sand and infill are then also separated from one another and the resulting piles are cleaned, this leaves us with clean sand and reusable infill.
While the infill and sand are being separated and cleaned the mats are shredded into smaller pieces. These pieces are run through an agglomeration process to turn them into circular agglomerate that can be used as a material for – among other things – outdoor furniture. At the end we are left with three new usable resources, a better more ecological friendly alternative to just throwing old artificial grass mats in a landfill or burning them for energy.