London 2012 will 'act as a catalyst' for good waste management

The chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London (CSL) 2012, an independent body which monitors the Olympics and Paralympics, spoke about how the Olympics can support good waste management and help achieve a target of zero waste.

As part of his speech at the closing day of the RWM trade show yesterday (September 15) in Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Shaun McCarthy, who is also the environment advisor for Transport for London (TFL), discussed how the CSL is working to promote the "greenest games ever", and is working towards a target for zero waste at next year's Olympics.

He said: "We want the Olympics be act as a catalyst for good waste management. We are confident this is happening, but at a slower rate than we would like mainly as a result of a change of government and a new London Mayor, who has brought in new policies and bodies."

McCarthy said CSL is now working to encourage people and businesses to adopt more sustainable behaviour and practices by putting systems in place to ensure all waste, including food waste, created by the Games next summer is recycled.

It is hoping to achieve this by working with major brands such as Coca Cola, which will be providing all drinks for the Games using only recyclable PET bottles, and McDonalds, which has agreed to use only biodegradable food packaging.

McCarthy said: "It's key to make sure what comes into the venue can be disposed of and not got to landfill. Anyone who wants to do catering on an Olympic Park must comply."

In a similar vein, McCarthy added that CSL will be working with all Olympic catering vendors directly to ensure food and packaging waste is recycled, and joked that "we will be spending more time looking in bins than watching sport" and said officers would be following waste trucks to ensure the waste is not being sent to landfill.

Despite this, McCarthy reasoned that the Olympics can never be a sustainable event and emphasised that as a commission "we maintain the Games can only be called sustainable if they make and maintain change in terms of sustainable infrastructure, events, management, communities and most importantly make a difference".

The CSL is now working towards creating a 'legacy of change' for the 2012 Games, as McCarthy said there is a lack of planning for sustainable legacy in the UK, although said that London's legacy is ahead of former Olympic hosts such as Australia and Athens, which have not managed to continue sustainable practices.

For more information on CSL visit:

Carys Matthews


Olympic | transport | zero waste


Waste & resource management
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