CRACKING IDEA: Spanish football club gives out eco boxes to avoid seed shells littering the stands

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SUNFLOWER SEEDS: Real Sociedad is now distributing biodegradable cardboard boxes, asking pipa-eaters to use them for the empty husks. Photo: Shutterstock

LAST season, spectators at Real Sociedad’s Anoeta football ground left 3 tons of sunflower seed husks behind them.

Despite changing tastes, sunflower seeds – pipas – are still popular, as 100 tons of the husks were swept up after Spain’s La Liga matches last season.

Real Sociedad is now distributing biodegradable cardboard boxes, asking pipa-eaters to use them for the empty husks so that they can be converted into compost.

Instead of ending up in a landfill site they will be mixed with garden waste and after a period of between nine and 12 months used as fertiliser on the traditional smallholdings and allotments on the outskirts of San Sebastian.

A local group Anoetatik Gipuzkoako Baratzetara (From Anoeta to the smallholdings of Guipuzkoa) is behind the initiative that is supported by the Real Sociedad Foundation.

“We are building a new stadium but we also want to build a new future,” said the Foundation’s director Andoni Iraola.

The first boxes were distributed in an upper terrace for matches against Huesca and Athletic de Bilbao and although the stadium was not full for the Huesca game, spectators left 40 kilos of husks.

There were fewer for the Athletic match, Iraola said: “It seems that people eat more pipas when they’re less excited.”

More of the boxes will be given out for coming games and the club hopes that by Easter Week the boxes can be distributed throughout the stadium.

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