Grand Final Football: How green is your green?

MCG at Sunset

While all eyes focus on the big matches this weekend, another fierce competition for environmental bragging rights is being fought out by the venues.

If ever you needed a reason to throw fuel on the raging Melbourne vs Sydney debate, this weekend’s sporting fixture promises to provide plenty.

Melbourne sporting mecca, the MCG will host local favourites Hawthorn taking on the Sydney Swans in what promises to be a hotly contested AFL Grand Final. Bragging rights for the victorious city may only last one day, as the Melbourne Storm will face the Canterbury Bulldogs on Sydney soil in the NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

Whilst the competition on the field will be fierce, how do the two venues for the biggest sporting events of the year stack up environmentally?

MCG – Home of the AFL Grand Final on Saturday
ANZ Stadium – Home of the NRL Grand Final on Sunday

Key match-ups:

The MCG boasts five guiding principles to continually improve its performance in waste management:

  • Reduce unrecyclable waste.
  • Reuse materials where possible.
  • Promote recycling by providing appropriate infrastructure.
  • Educate employees, patrons and contractors.
  • Use landfill as a last resort.

Both the MCG and ANZ Stadium are involved with the Closed Loop recycling program designed to provide high quality recycled food packaging which can be recycled after use to make other useful products.

On ‘recycled’ paper it looks like there’s nothing between the two rivals on the waste front, how about water?

ANZ Stadium:

  • Collect rainwater from the Stadium roof and store it in four large tanks holding 3.2 million litres for irrigation of the pitch, and
  • Have installed water efficient devices throughout the Stadium.


  • Operates under a water conservation plan
  • Has a sand profile which helped reduce water usage by more than one million litres annually without reducing turf quality
  • Is in the process of installing a Water Recycling Facility to produce 600,000 litres of recycled water per day for irrigation of Yarra Park around the MCG, as well as for cleaning and toilet flushing at the MCG and nearby Punt Road Oval.
  • Collect rainwater from the northern stand roof via a 1.5 million litre tank to clean the seating bowl and concourse.
  • Have installed water efficient showers, toilet flushing devices and timer controlled taps throughout the venue, and
  • Are working with City West Water and other consultants to find more ways to become as water efficient as possible.

The scales seem to be tipping towards the younger ANZ stadium from a water efficiency point of view, but the MCG’s recycling scheme is about ready to kick some big goals to bring them up to speed. Looks like energy efficiency measures might be the deciding factor!


  • Looking at efficiency measures for:
  • Heating
  • Ventilation
  • Cooling
  • Electrical and
  • Hydraulic services
  • Revised sports lighting to reduce light spill
  • Use natural ventilation and daylight where possible
  • Automate lighting and air-conditioning so they are only on when required

ANZ Stadium:

  • Was designed with passive ventilation to minimise the use of energy intensive air-conditioning
  • Utilise energy efficient compact fluorescent lighting where appropriate and safe
  • Has been designed to allow the most natural light possible


  • Automate lighting so they are only on when required

Looks like ANZ stadium might have the answers early on energy efficiency but again, the MCG is coming through with some very exciting prospects which could see them to be a force to be reckoned with.

The verdict:
Overall, both the MCG and ANZ Stadium have shown great commitment to finding ways to reduce their impact on the environment. ANZ stadium was opened in 1999 and the MCG was built in 1853. It goes to show, just as in a footy game whilst the young team has a lot of natural energy (efficiency), it is possible to reinvigorate older teams with younger players (new efficiency measures) to bring them up to speed.

If you’re interested the MCG and ANZ stadium have a heap of information on their websites about their environmental policies.

Are you having a Grand Final party? What measures are you taking to reduce the impact your party has on the environment?