Identifying the components of a batting pad prior to a more circular design

Calls for action by the paper for cricket gear designers and manufacturers – and help for disadvantaged communities and state schools

Sustainability and social equity in cricket are the focus of a white paper published today by The Centre for Sustainable Design (CfSD) at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), Farnham, Surrey. The research was carried out by CfSD – and Centre for Natural Material Innovation at University of Cambridge – for the Circular Cricket Gear Project, and was funded by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) National Interdisciplinary Circular Research (NICER) CE-HUB from September 2022 to August 2023.

The paper points the way to how cricket gear can be designed, manufactured to be more circular and how reuse, repair and refurbishment can be facilitated.

“Findings, Learning and Implications for Policymakers and Other Stakeholders related to Sustainability and Cricket Gear” addresses sustainability, circular economy and social equity in the cricket gear industry, and includes input by leading experts in the field of sustainable design, material sciences and stakeholders from the cricket gear industry.


World’s second largest sport, but…

Says Professor Martin Charter, Director, CfSD, “Despite being the world’s second largest sport, the environmental and social impact of cricket gear has been largely overlooked until now. The white paper highlights the need for immediate action to close the gap between the current wasteful practices and a more circular vision.”

Professor Charter, a previous club cricketer and ex “Spin for England” finalist in the  1970s, adds, “The cricket gear industry is wasteful in many aspects, using high carbon materials and textiles that are sourced from non-renewable resources, some involving highly polluting methods of manufacture, and with few guidelines on sustainability including re-use.”

The white paper will be followed by a new CfSD research-based project, “Advanced Circular Cricket Gear (ACCG)”, which runs from August 2023 to July 2024 and explores biomaterials and circular design of cricket gear.

The white paper highlights the need for immediate action, and its key findings include:

Sustainability Awareness Gap. Sustainability appears to be a low priority for cricket ear manufacturers in the UK. Increased effort is required to raise awareness and understanding of sustainability issues within the industry.

Circular Opportunities. A vast amount of cricket gear is wasted, emphasising the need to develop infrastructure for second-life opportunities by for example, promoting the reuse of internal components in batting gloves and pads to reduce environmental impacts and cost.

Carbon Footprint. With most cricket gear sold in the UK being produced overseas, it contributes to a significant carbon footprint when imported. The white paper proposes exploring local production and using less environmentally impactful materials.

Access and Affordability.  A report by The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) recently highlighted that the cost of cricket gear hinders opportunities in accessing the sport, particularly for disadvantage communities and state-funded schools. Stakeholders must address these barriers to increase participation e.g., through the use and reuse of second-hand gear by creating the appropriate infrastructure, and product design and development that supports these initiatives.

Repair and Refurbishment. Establishing a network for repairing and refurbishing cricket gear in England and Wales should be explored to extend the life of equipment.Standards and Regulations. Governing bodies should work with stakeholders to develop sustainability standards, guidance, and advice for cricket gear companies, fostering innovation and sustainability throughout the industry.

Says Professor Charter, “By addressing the white paper’s recommendations, the cricket gear industry can take the first steps toward a more sustainable, equitable and circular future. We hope  stakeholders across the cricket community will embrace its findings and recommendations, to ensure the future of cricket is more sustainable and inclusive. At present, it isn’t.”

In summary,  the white paper identifies and offers recommendations for key stakeholders, including cricket gear brands, manufacturers, governing bodies, and organisations involved in promoting the sport in, for example, state schools.