Scroll Top

Influencing the future of mass participation events

Greener and Cleaner volunteers on the waste management team at 2022 London Marathon

Greener and Cleaner fed into the waste management of the TCS London Marathon in 2022 and here’s what the event organisers are working on now.

In 2022, Greener and Cleaner were invited to man waste management stations at the TCS London Marathon – the first time rubbish at the event had been treated this way. Volunteers were invited to give feedback about their experience and further improvements that could be made at the marathon and to other mass participation events organised by London Marathon Events (LME).

It was a cold and early start, but 19 Greener and Cleaner volunteers arrived at the start of the 2022 TCS London Marathon, to be split into smaller groups of 2-3 each with a waste station – a fenced-off area with wheelie bins for recycling – to look after. Taking waste from runners, sorting into the correct recycling bins and piling clothing for the British Heart Foundation to collect.

“In a cheery atmosphere it was fantastic to be able to do something that reduced the impact of such a great event on the environment” Greener and Cleaner volunteer Rachel was pleased she’d made the early start and joined in.

Following the event, Greener and Cleaner volunteers were invited to email Clare Searle, Greener and Cleaner’s Chief Strategy Officer and lead for the day, with any points or feedback they felt would help reduce the environmental impact of the event. Clare prepared a coordinated response to the London Marathon Events (LME) team and followed up a few months later. We’re still waiting for a written response, but these are some of the verbal key response we’ve had so far.

Here’s what we raised

Water refills

Greener and Cleaner noted a lot of folk were happy to refill water but could not find anywhere to do so. LME responded, “Noted. We use refill points at other events and are considering trialling for this year as more runners are carrying their water”.

Kit bags

Greener and Cleaner fed back that the plastic “kit” bags folks were given in preparation for race day were handed in at waste stations and there wasn’t time to dismantle them (removing the cords so the soft plastic could go for recycling). In future, a bag which can definitely be recycled and is easy to separate components would be much better.

LME responded that finisher bags needed to be see-through for security reasons. “The material is made from sugar cane but is difficult to recycle unless you separate out the parts. We are looking into a better option but it will not change for this year”.

Greener and Cleaner also asked if kit bags are even needed, making the suggestion that runners could opt in/out to merch/kit when they complete their place registration. It was good to hear LME’s response “This is a long-term plan as we would like to move away from a baggage system but they are still needed for now”.

Runner and race day communications

Greener and Cleaner noted various aspects of communications to participants that could highlight the recycling facilities, what the sustainability policy is trying to achieve, and how the waste is being separated. Including:

  • Pre-marathon emails and information to participants: “Agreed and we will increase our comms on this”.
  • Brief the compère with clear instructions about what people do with their waste. So this is announced to runners at fixed intervals: “The compere script will be updated for 2023 to reflect this”.
  • Ensure sustainability practices are in the information packs for runners before they arrive: “Agreed. We are working on our comms plan to share more about what we do and advise others to encourage behaviour change”.

Watch this space

There were a number of other points raised by Greener and Cleaner to the event organisers that will keep being addressed in the future.

LME shared with us this interesting context on the impact of the Marathon and what’s changed- and whilst the 2022 annual environmental report is currently being written, LME shared their 2021 report here.

Greener and Cleaner are proud to be volunteering at the 2023 Marathon in just a few short weeks, manning the waste stations – with the improvements their volunteers suggested. You can sign up to join our team here: The form closes at midnight on 28th February, after which time you can register your interest for 2024.

There’s more work to be done, but being involved in this event and raising the points, keeps a reduction in emissions firmly on the agenda.

It goes full circle

For 2023 Greener and Cleaner were granted a charity place in the TCS London Marathon. We have capitalised on Rachel’s love of running and her support of Greener and Cleaner to run for us this year.

There is a lot of training and preparation going on behind the scenes to achieve the 26.2 miles, Rachel has been training since New Year’s Day. If you’d like to support her efforts for Greener and Cleaner, you can sponsor Rachel here:

A little closer to home

And finally, if you’re based in south east London and would like a green audit of your business to reduce your carbon footprint, we work with both small and large organisations to help you operate greener and cleaner. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

If you’re an individual looking for ideas on how to live greener and cleaner or for events on a smaller scale, you can check out our “Get greener” section or join our Facebook group for advice, support and suggestions from like-minded individuals.

Leave a comment