London 2012 praised for ‘medal winning’ waste performance

Waste management operations at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games offered a valuable opportunity for spectators to observe sustainability in practice, according to an independent review.

Encouraging source-separation of food and drink packaging materials such as cans and plastic containers throughout the Olympic park through a colour coded three-bin system, with key messages around recycling, helped push home messages around sustainable consumption according to the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012.

Its in-depth review also praised the London Organising Committee of the Olympic & Paralympic Games (LOCOG) for its meticulous attention to packaging such as the use of compostable cutlery and its ambitious targets including zero waste to landfill and a reuse/recycling 70% target.

The post-Games report London 2012 – From Vision to Reality presented the final conclusions through key sustainability themes, with information based on first-hand observations and data gathered by the Commission during Games-time.

It concluded that the Games broadly delivered against its sustainability objectives, but pointed to some areas where further improvements could have been made.

Although Games-time carbon savings are on track to be achieved, the Commission said it was “disappointed” with LOCOG’s slow development of a comprehensive energy plan, which meant opportunities were missed for greater carbon reductions.

The report also said a lack of information about the venues, village buildings and infrastructure was a missed opportunity for communicating sustainability credentials to visitors.

Commenting on the findings of the review, Commission chair Shaun McCarthy said that London 2012 had “raised the bar” on sustainability, but more could be achieved if the lessons learnt could be heeded by the events industry as a whole.

“By being open to learning from these successes as well as the missed opportunities, future major projects could even out-perform London 2012’s sustainability achievements,” he said.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the legacy of the Games would set a benchmark for sustainable living with the creation of a park complex built to zero carbon and waste standards.

The London Legacy Development Corporation is now tasked with developing the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – a 225 hectare site housing up to 8,000 homes, five sporting venues, with 45 hectares of bio-diverse habitat and a network of pathways, cycle routes and waterways.

All timber products used during the construction process will be sustainably sourced and major materials will feature a 25% minimum recycled content.

In terms of waste management, targets have been set for zero municipal waste to landfill by 2025 and zero events waste to landfill by 2020.

Maxine Perella

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