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Sustainability at the Virgin Money London Marathon

London Marathon Events is committed to becoming a world leader in delivering sustainable mass participation events.

We know our participants share our passion and want us to take action and we have developed some plans to make the Virgin Money London Marathon the most sustainable ever. You can read our environmental policy to find out more.

A range of innovative initiatives will be trialled at the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon which aim to dramatically reduce LME’s environmental impact and set the standard for mass participation events. These 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.
  • Reducing the total number of drink stations on the route from 26 to 19 and a reduction of more than 215,000 plastic bottles on the course, compared to 2018.
  • 700 runners will trial new bottle belts made from 90 per cent recycled materials. LME has worked with Manhattan Portage to create the belts which are specially designed to carry the Buxton 250ml bottle. This initiative 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.

Bottle belt

  • The largest ever trial of Ooho seaweed edible and biodegradable capsules – following a successful trial at The Vitality Big Half, Lucozade Sport will be provided in more than 30,000 edible Ooho seaweed capsules at the Lucozade Sport station at Mile 23.

Ooho sachets

  • Following the trial of compostable cups at one Lucozade Sport station in 2018, three Lucozade Sport stations will use compostable cups rather than bottles in 2019. The cups will be collected and composted at a plant.

Compostable cups

  • Introducing drop zones across the course for runners to drop their bottles. This will help speed up the clean-up process as bottles are collected from the drop zones and the road and sent for recycling by our Recycling Team.
  • 500 runners will trial wearing specially designed Virgin Money London Marathon capes at the start and finish so they don’t bring a kit bag. These capes will then be collected and cleaned for reuse. Extensive use of capes in future years would reduce the number of plastic kit bags produced and the need for baggage lorries to transport runners’ kit from the start to the Finish.

Virgin Money London Marathon cape

  • All runners on the Green Start will have their race numbers printed on demand at the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show. Currently, race numbers are pre-printed for all 52,000 accepted runners and some 10,000 runners do not make it to the Start Line.

In addition, LME will also introduce the following sustainable measures for the 2019 race:

  • A campaign to encourage spectators to dispose of their waste correctly and to bring refillable bottles and use the free Refill scheme in London to keep hydrated.
  • Halving the number of generators at the Start and all generators will be fitted with particulate filters.
  • Using eco-efficient tower lights to reduce the amount of energy used and emissions.
  • All clothes discarded at the start will be collected and sent for reuse or to be recycled.
  • All plastic bottles used will be 100 per cent recyclable.
  • All Lucozade Sport bottles used will be made from 100 per cent recycled plastic – a first for the brand - and all Buxton bottles will be made from 50 per cent recycled plastic – a UK first.
  • Recovery bags given to runners at the finish will be made from 90 per cent recycled plastic and free from unnecessary leaflets and giveaways.
  • No ‘goody bags’ will be given out by LME at the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show.
  • All race instructions and registration materials will be digital, not printed.
  • All branding material (scrim) – more than 30 kilometres of it – will be collected and reused or recycled into industrial rags.