London Marathon Events (LME) has today published its first environmental report – Leaving the Right Impression – as it aims to lead the way in delivering sustainable mass participation sports events.

LME organises world-leading mass participation events, including the Virgin Money London Marathon and Prudential RideLondon, and has led the world in showing the power of mass participation sport as a force for good. Now LME is committed to inspire and deliver innovation in mass participation event sustainability.

This comprehensive report, the first of its kind in the organisation’s history, sets out the waste, emissions and products produced and used across all of LME’s events, and at their headquarters and warehouse in 2019. It details how much is recycled and reused, and assesses some of the ground-breaking initiatives it trialled at the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon, including:

  • Bottle belts made from 90 per cent recycled materials. 700 runners used the belts and recorded how much water they used and on average a runner with a belt used just over 40% less bottles than a runner without a belt. Runners reported that using a bottle belt had a positive effect on their performance as they had access to more convenient and regular hydration. This has the potential to significantly reduce the number of plastic bottles used and water wasted.
  • Lucozade Sport Oohos – In the largest trial of its kind in the world, Lucozade Sport was distributed to runners in 36,000 edible seaweed capsules instead of plastic bottles. In the post-race survey 83 per cent of the respondents who tried them rated them as good or excellent.
  • A closed loop recycling system and improved collection process for plastic bottles in Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Southwark and Canary Wharf. Bottles used in these boroughs were collected, bailed and returned directly to Buxton and Lucozade Sport where they were recycled into new product. This provided vital data and lessons for LME on how waste is managed at water stations and has improved collection and recycling at all LME events.

The report also outlines the proposed targets for 2020 but these were set before the global Covid-19 pandemic. Currently the Virgin Money London Marathon, the Vitality London 10,000 and the Vitality Westminster Mile have been postponed and the 2020 events may not take place in the format they were intended at the start of the year. However, LME is committed to achieving the targets where it can and in the future.

Hugh Brasher, Event Director, London Marathon Events said: “We want to protect our natural environment and ensure our events leave as small an environmental footprint as possible.

“In the past year, we have invested in research, innovation and resources to minimise our environmental impact and have already launched initiatives that have the potential to change profoundly the delivery of mass participation events worldwide.

“The work we have done means that we have a much clearer understanding of our impacts and can better plan how we reduce them in future. We know there is still much more to do but we are passionate about and fully committed to reducing our environmental impact and leading the way in delivering sustainable mass participation sports events.”

LME has also signed up to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework as part of its ongoing commitment to be the global leader in sustainable mass participation sports events. This UN initiative aims at supporting and guiding sports in achieving global climate change goals.

LME continues to collaborate with other major event organisers in the UK and internationally to share learning and collectively drive innovation and change in sustainability practices.