SPORT Sustainability: The beating heart of Formula E

Discover the details, the nuances and the care that’s taken to make Formula E one of the most sustainable sports in the world.

Sustainability is at the very heart of Formula E. Take away sustainability and Formula E just won’t work. It’s a budding sport that shows how you can be both entertaining and environmentally-conscious. From the way the cars are built to the way the races are run, every element of Formula E is carefully thought through. Everyone in the sport has a common goal: to find new ways to make motorsport more sustainable. And to give you an idea of how Formula E approaches its goals, let’s dig into the details. These nuances can help us better appreciate what it takes to develop a successful, future-focused sport. 

Every part is precious

Before we zoom out to the big picture, let’s take a closer look at Formula E car parts. Racing cars are made up of many different, fiddly parts. In any motorsport, these parts are constantly moved around the world. From factories to paddocks to, in many cases, landfills. These transfers aren’t always made in the most eco-friendly ways. That’s why Formula E plays by different rules. Formula E car parts are transported by sea freights that use biofuels, with specific space secured in containers that travel to each racing venue. It’s more efficient. And at the end of a racing season, the parts are sent to a warehouse in Donington Park. This is where the recycling process begins.

“Over 90% of our carbon footprint is related to travel or freight. But we also recognize that we need to be in global, iconic cities to spread our message and inspire others. We have a state-of-the-art, long-lasting sustainability freight roadmap to support us in continually decreasing our carbon footprint, while growing our sport internationally with the support of our logistics partner. We use a multi-modal approach, in addition to biofuels and alternative modes of transport to just air freight such as transport by sea or road where emissions are far less. So we’re innovating and trying everything possible to constantly reduce our impact on the environment.” – Julia Pallé, Sustainability Director, Formula E

Old cars, new life

One day you’re a broken Formula E chassis, the next you’ve been recycled into a shiny new reusable product. By giving things new life through recycling, Formula E is giving new life to motorsport. Even Formula E car batteries are given a second life after use. The residual power of these batteries is harnessed for other purposes, over 95% of their metals are extracted and over 60% of them are recycled. Tire allocation is reduced by 25% per single-race competition and by up to 50% at double-header competitions. Every tire is recycled after use, and only one type of hybrid tire is used every season. You can only use two sets of tires per race per car, which means 30% to 50% less tires are transported.

Every race is an opportunity to be more sustainable

Right from the start, Formula E has worked with carbon management experts. These specialists carry out life cycle assessments, so the sport can monitor and calculate its carbon footprint. A life cycle assessment assesses the environmental, social and economic impacts of Formula E. The impact of each race is examined over a season, so the sport can identify opportunities to make further improvements in operations and planning.

Let’s talk about resource management. Formula E’s goal is to achieve a 100% renewable energy target for all events based on its energy roadmap, prioritizing high-quality event power sources. On average across all Formula E events, 52% of waste is recycled. This number goes up to 90% at races in the EU and the United States. The sport has Recycling Rangers who encourage and educate teams, staff and fans on how to maximize recycling. Formula E fans get free water and reusable pouches to reduce single-use plastics at race events. 

Of course, even supply chains are subject to sustainability measures. By engaging directly with its supply chain, Formula E maximizes the positive impact it can have through procurement practices. From invitation to tender, sustainability is baked into the process through the Sustainable Procurement Policy. You have robust assessments on-site and an evaluation of performance post-race. This makes sure that suppliers have and maintain high environmental and social standards.

« We were the first sport in the world to achieve Net Zero Carbon since inception in 2020, 10 years before UN recommendations, and the first sport in the world to align with science-based targets in 2021. »

Julia Pallé Sustainability Director, Formula E

A new generation of cars, now even more sustainable 

Season 9 will welcome Gen3, the benchmark for sustainability in high-performance racing cars. It’s the first formula car that will be aligned to “Life Cycle Thinking”. This means there’s a clear path towards second life and end-of-life for all tires, broken parts and battery cells. Gen3 will be net-zero carbon and all suppliers will be held to strict sustainability KPIs. Another fresh turn towards a better, healthier sport.

“Formula E has created an authentic culture for sustainability and showcased that sport can play a crucial role in fighting climate change globally. Not only has it created this initial platform, but through our race teams, engineers and other key staff, it continues to innovate and push the boundaries of what’s possible. You can see it even now, through the launch of our Gen3 car, which will be a complete step change in the technology that is available to automakers developing their own range of EVs.” – Julia Pallé, Sustainability Director, Formula E