HOT DOG-chomping football fans from Britain may be surprised to see Spaniards munching the simple sunflower seed in stadiums around the country.

But there is a bigger surprise coming as one club has started a new initiative to turn its stadium into a machine for making fertiliser.

Last season, spectators at Real Sociedad’s Anoeta football ground in San Sebastian littered an estimated three tonnes of sunflower seed husks while watching La Liga games.

However, Real Sociedad is now distributing biodegradable containers and asking pipa-popping fans to fill them with the organic refuse in a bid to beat climate change.

Instead of ending up in landfill, the husks will be deposited in compost bins and subsequently mixed with garden waste and turned into fertiliser for allotments on the outskirts of San Sebastian.

Director of Real Sociedad Foundation Andoni Iraola said: ”We are simply asking our fans to deposit the husks in the cardboard containers and then leave them in the compost bins, instead of just throwing them on the floor.”

Iraola said the response has already been ‘magnificent’ after a pilot scheme saw 40 kg of husks deposited in compost bins following a home game against SD Huesca.

Fewer husks were returned after a match against Athletic de Bilbao – Real Sociedad’s Basque nemesis – for which Iraola explained: “It seems that people eat more pipas when they’re less excited.”

Real Sociedad thrashed Althetic de Bilbao 3-1 in the last Basque derby.

The campaign, dubbed Anoetatik Gipuzkoako Baratzetara ( meaning ‘From Anoeta to the smallholdings of Guipuzkoa’), is a collaboration between the Real Sociedad Foundation, recycling company Ekotrade and sustainable education park Kutxa Ekogunea.

Ekotrade will be tasked with mixing the sunflower seed husks with kitchen waste and converting it into compost within a 9 to 12-month period.

Kutxa Ekogunea will then be charged with distributing the compost to 1,200 allotments around San Sebastian.

Director general of the Kutxa Foundation, Ander Aispurua, said: ”We want to move from awareness into action. We want to turn today’s waste into tomorrow’s fertiliser, which can then become a fruit or a vegetable. We want to make the surrounding land more and more sustainable.”

Real Sociedad estimate that across the first and second divisions of Spanish football around 70 tons of sunflower seed husks go to landfill each year.

In a promotional video for the campaign, Real Sociedad captain Asier Illarramendi said he will soon make the score ‘Real Sociedad 1, rubbish 0’.

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