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A paradigm shift for sustainability in motorsport

As Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One™ Team (AMF1) achieves its three-star FIA rating and embeds environmental management in all that it does, Martin Townsend, Director for BSI Centre of Excellence for Sustainability, shares why this has the potential to be the start of a paradigm shift in how motorsport embraces sustainability.

Aston Martin

The thrill of watching an F1 race live, either trackside or at home, is intense. Behind-the-scenes, efforts to drive sustainability are increasingly just as strenuous and fast-paced as those you see trackside. And it is these efforts that have the potential to ensure a long and successful future to match the sport's history.

The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) is taking a leadership role among other sports federations in pushing for global climate action. It has implemented ambitious carbon reduction plans for every part of the sport to become net-zero by 2030, and to make all events sustainable by 2025.

Whilst these goals may appear too optimistic for an industry typically associated with contributing to emissions, they are achievable with the proper frameworks, as demonstrated by AMF1.


A beacon of change

AMF1's sustainability achievements are notable. Not only has the team achieved certification to the Environmental Management standard ISO 14001 and three-star accreditation to the FIA Environmental Accreditation Programme, but this is also the first of five environmental international standards the team will implement with BSI.

This combination of five standards indicates a commitment to sustainable leadership that will put the team in a league of their own in motorsport circles. The standards are:

  • ISO 14001 Environmental Management;

  • ISO 50001 Energy Management;

  • ISO 20121 Sustainable Events Management;

  • ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety;

  • Carbon Footprint Verification

Driving change industry-wide

Perhaps surprisingly, the most significant opportunity for improvement is not in the race cars themselves, which contribute to less than 1% of F1's emissions, but in the scope-three emissions and the logistic operations, which are responsible for around 50% of the total emissions.

As such, there is a push to reduce, recycle or repurpose race weekend materials, and each event now considers six key areas:

  • Plastic & waste

  • Local fan travel

  • Wellbeing & nature

  • Local community

  • Energy

  • Carbon

For example, steps are being taken to eliminate single-use plastics inside the paddock, where motorcars are assembled before a race, and across the circuit venues. This is being achieved by promoting reusable bottle use and providing plenty of water stations for all those involved and watching the sport.

Miami GP

Many circuits now partner with local food banks and charities to help donate surplus food to those in need in the local community, minimising food waste.

This considered approach is not only limited to events but also their bases, with F1's offices now using 100% renewable energy, and broadcast operations working to source alternative biofuels to run in their generators.

A bright future for all

Formula One as a sport demonstrates how substantially an industry can change in just a short time, supported by the FIA's vision for a safe and sustainable motorsport industry. BSI is working in collaboration with the FIA to support more of its members to fast track to a three-star level in The FIA Environmental Accreditation Programme via ISO 14001 and ISO 20121.

AMF1 has achieved its first sustainability accolade in the organisation's third racing year, and after only 12 months of prioritisation. This is only the start – BSI's hope is this best-practice initiative will pass through to the broader sports and events industries. The race is on.

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