The most sustainable London Marathon yet
Although the race coordinators still have leaps and bounds to go in terms of reducing plastic waste, they have come a long way.
Not only did the London Marathon 2019 organisers provide edible vegan seaweed pouches for runners to drink, but they have reported that they will collect all of the plastic bottles used, and send them to be recycled.
This year, 704,000 bottles were used by runners and spectators, but that number is a massive drop from the 920,000 used in 2018 – 216,000 to be more precise.
The main way that London Marathon Events (LME) reduced the plastic bottles used, was by trialling the edible Ooho seaweed capsules – which have been utilised in other races prior to the London run. It was also the biggest trial of the pods, with more than 30,000 edible pouches handed out at the Lucozade Sport station at Mile 23.
In a statement before the event, LME said it has ‘committed to ensuring zero waste to landfill by December 2020 through improved procurement, maximising reuse and recycling’.
The organisers implemented what they described as a ‘unique closed-loop recycling project’ for plastic bottles in Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Southwark, and Canary Wharf. Bottles used in these boroughs would be gathered and taken directly to a bottle reprocessing plant, to be recycled into new bottles, limiting the need for more virgin plastic as well as reducing waste.
As well as this, 700 runners tried out new bottle belts made from 90 per cent recycled materials. LME said: “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.”
In a statement issued before the race, Hugh Brasher, event director for London Marathon Events, said: “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.”