Denmark made the most sustainable Handball World Championships ever. DANSK HAANDBOLD

France and Norway will meet in the final of the Women's Handball World Championship at the Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning on Sunday at 19.00, while Denmark and Sweden will play for the bronze medal at 16.00.

The event, co-hosted by the Scandinavian teams Denmark, Norway and Sweden, will go down in history for the extraordinary fan support, with more than 10,000 spectators in many matches, for the excellent relations between the three host countries hosting the event. 

It will be special and different also for the innovative and groundbreaking commitment to sustainability and the "desire to build something positive for the future", Jens Jacob Juulsager, press manager of the Danish Handball Federation (DHF), told Insidethegames. 

The Danish city of Herning, with a population of around 50,000 (90,000 in the municipality as a whole) and its impressive Jyske Bank Boxen, which holds more than 12,000 spectators, has become the epicentre of world handball this weekend.

This modern and functional Arena hosts the two semi-finals, the medal matches and the fight for the fifth to eighth places, which will also be important for the configuration of the Qualifying Tournaments for Paris 2024. 

Insidethegames spoke to Sarah Wanting, project manager of this sustainability project in Denmark. Sweden and Norway have also worked hard to make this event the most sustainable ever. 

Dansk Handbold made it it visible by wearing their third uniform in the last match before the World Championships (blue instead of the usual black), symbolising the UN Sustainable Development Goal no. 17 "Partnerships for the Goals". The symbol of this particular goal was also printed on the shirt.

During the competition, the three Scandinavian countries are running a campaign to raise awareness of litter and waste separation by encouraging the spectators to get personally involved in the arenas. "We are also actively learning. At the first match we had that it was very difficult for us to control it, but two days later everything worked almost perfectly," a sincere Wanting congratulated. 

The Jyske Bank Boxen, a massive but very sustainable handball party. DANKS HAANDBOLD
The Jyske Bank Boxen, a massive but very sustainable handball party. DANKS HAANDBOLD

This initiative focuses on reducing food waste and water consumption, eliminating plastic and buying and renting used instead of buying new, recycling, reusing, and serving vegetarian options and KRAV and/or Fairtrade labelled coffee, but also in the press area by drastically reducing the use of paper. 

Another big goal is to give everything a second life. The Danish Handball Association is working together with the Municipality of Herning and Arena Nord in Frederikshavn to find local initiatives, that can use the materials in new projects after the World Championships. 

In Sweden, Stadsmissionen, Fairtrade and the Fabrikörerna business association have teamed up to sew cloth bags and gym bags from the advertising blankets in the arena instead of throwing them away or burning them. The bags and cases will be used in schools, for example in connection with Handball. 

Sport Event Denmark is one of the key factors in bringing important competitions and events to the country. Lars Lundov, CEO of the company, commented to Insidethegames: "During the World Championships, we are working with both arenas (Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning and Arena Nord in Frederikshavn) and the Danish Handball Association to explore the opportunities and challenges of responsible event management. We will then collect data to learn more from future events in Denmark".

"Sustainability is on everybody's lips and we welcome all great ideas on how to reduce the footprints of staging mejor international sporting events. Moving from the desk projects to practical solutions is a discipline that we will pursue", he added.

"Hosting the IHF Women's World Championship is an excellent demonstration of the great cooperation across borders and a great showcase for our shared values of volunteerism and the festive celebration of handball. In the coming years, the Nordic countries will host no less than three handball championships and we'll also demonstrate our commitment to sustainable event management. We are proud to have been part of a tournament that prioritises both sporting excellence and environmental responsibility," concluded Lundov.

In this sense, the DHF uses the event as a platform to launch its strategic work with responsibility based on a number of clear and challenging points:

-Campaign film: In Danish arenas has been shown a campaign film to raise awareness of the amount of garbage generated at sporting events and to encourage spectators to take part in the clean-up. 

Jyske Bank Boxen was packed with 12,000 spectators, but clean as a whistle. DANSK HAANDBOLD
Jyske Bank Boxen was packed with 12,000 spectators, but clean as a whistle. DANSK HAANDBOLD

-Litter sorting: Spectators are encouraged to sort their waste and they have the opportunity to do so in the many recycling bins in Danish arenas such as Jyske Bank Boxen. 

-Recycling: Together with the host municipalities and venues, the DHF is working to find local initiatives and companies that will take materials and use them in new products or projects after the World Championships. 

-Data collection: The DNH collects data on the transport habits of teams and spectators to learn more about the impact of the event and to create better and more responsible options for future tournaments. 

-Reusable water bottles at the Media Centre: Visitors will be provided with reusable water bottles with the aim of minimising the use of disposable bottles. 

-Free pads and tampons for players and referees: In cooperation with the Swedish brand, Redlocker, players and referees are provided with free pads and tampons in the changing rooms at Jyske Bank Boxen and at the matches played at the Arena Nord in Frederikshavn.

-Bottles and cans for a good cause: Spectators at Herning Arena will have the opportunity to donate their bottles and cans to Julemaerkehjemmene, a Danish children's charity organisation.