LONDON MARATHON 2019
For the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon, organisers London Marathon Events (LME) have announced a number of new initiatives to combat waste generated by the event - which is notorious for strewn plastic water bottles and sachets and discarded clothes.
LME has established a team within the company to develop new environmental initiatives and practices and also commissioned a full review of its sustainability practices, including a rigorous audit of the recycling chain and waste management processes, committing to ensuring zero waste to landfill by December 2020.
Initiatives being trialled this year include a unique closed loop recycling project for plastic bottles in Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Southwark and Canary Wharf. Bottles used in these boroughs will be collected and returned directly to a bottle reprocessing plant, where they will be recycled into new bottles. Bottles used in other boroughs will still be recycled but not through a closed loop system.
While plastic bottles will still be very much in use at the event, there will be a reduced number of drink stations on the route and a reduction of more than 215,000 plastic bottles on the course, compared to 2018. Drop zones are being introduced across the course for runners to drop their bottles in a bid to help speed up the clean-up process and ensure every bottle is recycled. All plastic bottles will also be 100% recyclable and all Lucozade Sport bottles used will be made from 100% recycled plastic – a first for the brand - while all Buxton bottles will be made from 50% recycled plastic – a UK first.
700 runners will also trial new bottle belts made from 90% recycled materials, in an initiative that will also monitor how much water a runner uses. Encouraging runners to carry their own water has the potential to radically change how hydration is provided at mass participation running events. The bottle belts will be collected for cleaning and reuse post-event.
There will also be the largest ever trial of Ooho seaweed edible and biodegradable capsules – Lucozade Sport will be provided in more than 30,000 edible Ooho seaweed capsules at the Lucozade Sport station at Mile 23. Meanwhile, three Lucozade Sport stations will use compostable cups rather than bottles. The cups will be collected and composted at a plant in Bedford.
Hugh Brasher, event director for LME, says: “We are passionate about the concept of Eliminate, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and fully committed to reducing our environmental impact. We believe we run the best mass participation events in the world and we want to match that by leading the world in mass participation event sustainability.
“Working closely with our partners and local authorities, we have developed some truly innovative initiatives and plans to make this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon the most sustainable ever. This challenge is huge as we are looking at sustainability across a myriad of factors: just some of the areas we are currently working on include reducing CO2 emissions, transportation of runners (both internationally and within the UK), a reduction in the use of generators and plastics together with more local procurement of event infrastructure.
“We know our participants share our passion and want us to take action. It is a huge challenge as we must balance providing proper runner welfare with reducing our environmental impact. We can’t achieve everything in one event, in one year, but the changes and the trials we’re introducing for this year have the potential to change how mass participation events are delivered in future. Everyone can make a difference: our participants, spectators, contractors, volunteers and staff.”