Staging the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be one of the greatest projects of the decade. Not only will the capital host a great sporting event, but there will be a legacy of world-class sporting facilities for generations to come. On top of this, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has said it wants the event to be a zero-waste Games.
There is much that goes into organising an event such as this. It is underpinned by years of planning, design and construction. WRAP has been working with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and its construction contractors since 2006. Initially, WRAP provided recommendations for targets within the ODA’s Sustainable Development Strategy. This was published in January 2007, and included targets for the recovery of demolition waste (later extended to include construction waste) and the use of secondary materials.
The ODA showed real environmental leadership by setting a target for using at least 20% secondary materials by value during the construction phase of the Games. With huge volumes of construction waste and new materials coming on-site, getting effective site waste management plans (SWMPs) and waste minimisation action reports tied into venue teams’ contracts was essential.
Approximately 1.3 million tonnes of ready-mix concrete will be used for the Olympic Park and Village, which provided a great opportunity to hit the target. The winning bidder for site-wide concrete supply, working to the BRE’s Responsible Sourcing Certification Scheme, was able to supply concrete with up to 30% recycled materials.
Putting on an event the size of the Olympic Games is also a major feat of event management. LOCOG has set an ambitious target to ensure that at least 70% of Games-time waste will be reused, recycled or composted. This is significantly higher than the current practice from best-performing events.
As it stands, a considerable amount of material associated with events generally ends up in landfill. But LOCOG has been clear it is committed to ensuring this is not the case with the London 2012 Games, so it worked with the events sector and British Standards Institute to update the sustainable events standard BS 8901. This will be another legacy for future events.
To take this even further, WRAP has been working with LOCOG to extend the principle of the construction SWMP template to produce a wider resource management plan (RMP) tool for the events sector, covering temporary works; operational waste, such as food, packaging and promotion; and post-event waste. Tender specifications and contract requirements will signpost the RMP as a framework for forecasting, planning, monitoring and reporting.
LOCOG has also signed up to using the British Retail Consortium’s on-pack recycling labelling scheme, and requires the icons be used wherever appropriate and practicable on London 2012 merchandise packaging.
Simple and consistent communications and messaging is crucial to the delivery of the Olympic Games waste and resource management vision. LOCOG has recently approached WRAP to do some joint work on communications. As the London 2012 Games get nearer, we will also be working with partners to ensure that recycling of plastics, food waste and drinks bottles from spectators and caterers is simple and streamlined.
It will not only be the hard work of the athletes that will pay off in 2012. All the work put in by the ODA, LOCOG and its partners should also deliver one of the most sustainable Games to date, raising the bar for Rio 2016 and beyond.
Marcus Gover is director of market development at WRAP