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Nissan electric timing cars at the Start Line of the TCS London Marathon


Sustainability at our events

Our objective

  • To drive positive change in environmental sustainability through our own actions and inspire our stakeholders and partners to do the same

Learn more about the environmental sustainability programme across London Marathon Events below.

Initiatives for the 2023 TCS London Marathon

Check out the Green Line below to see the key initiatives we've put in place for the TCS London Marathon. It also shows what our participants and spectators can look out for to help us minimise the event’s environmental impact. We know we have more to do, and this is a continuing journey for us.

The Green Line sustainability graphic

Here are some of our other initiatives related to the TCS London Marathon:

  • Bib numbers printed on-demand to reduce waste at the TCS London Marathon Running Show
  • Information about sustainability initiatives at the TCS London Marathon Running Show
  • Flapjacks in finisher bags made in the UK from a local producer
  • Reusable and recyclable finisher bags made from sugar cane
  • Carbon levy for international ballot participants to the event to help compensate Greenhouse Gas Emissions associated with participant travel
  • Leftover food and drink donated to The Felix Project, a London-based food waste and redistribution charity that rescues surplus food and delivers it to almost 1,000 frontline charities, primary schools and holiday programmes to help feed local communities

Wider Sustainability Programme at London Marathon Events

Greenhouse gas emissions

Strategy: Net zero carbon emissions across our own operations within our control by the end of 2024

And here’s how:

  • Electrifying vehicles and using zero-carbon transport such as cargo bikes
  • Using fixed or renewable power across our events 
  • Estate powered by renewable energy only

What we’ve done to date:

  • Event vehicles
    • Used electric lead vehicles at the London Marathon since 2020
    • Introduced electric vans for logistics at The Big Half and RideLondon and TCS London Marathon in 2022
    • Used cargo bikes for on-site logistics at 2022 RideLondon
    • Used hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), which has lower greenhouse gas emissions, in the TCS London Marathon baggage lorries since 2022
  • Power
    • Used hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), which has lower greenhouse gas emissions, to power generators
    • Trialling cleaner event power by using mains electricity, renewables such as solar tower lights and battery solutions
  • Purchased energy
    • Set up renewable energy tariffs at our head office and warehouse

Strategy: Remove more carbon than we emit across all our operations by the end of 2025

And here’s how:

  • Quantifying our emissions, including those that we have less direct control over (such as emissions resulting from our contractors and from participants) and designing a wide-ranging (and evolving) programme to reduce these emissions
  • Investing in high-quality offsets for all remaining emissions while we continue our programme of decarbonisation, aiming to compensate for more than we emit

What we’ve done to date:

  • Emissions in our value chain
    • Through our membership to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, we have aligned with the Paris Agreement trajectory
    • Captured detailed data from participants, suppliers and partners so we can accurately calculate our Scope 3 carbon emissions
  • Carbon compensation
    • Partnered with the organisation Climate Impact Partners to compensate certain emissions we cannot currently reduce
    • Introduced a carbon levy for international ballot participants
A Nissan zero emission car ahead of the elite men's field

Emissions explained

Scope 1 emissions: direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. These are the generators used and the vehicles hired for our events.

Scope 2 emissions: indirect emissions from purchased energy.

Scope 3 emissions: indirect emissions from other activities in the value chain over which London Marathon Events does not have direct control. These types of emissions can be extensive and covers activity such as participant travel, supply chain activity and the lifecycle of products we buy.

Waste and circularity

Strategy: Reduce waste to incineration by 50 per cent across all our events based on 2019 levels

And here’s how:

  • Reducing waste by introducing opt-outs for T-shirts and medals at certain events
  • Increasing the amount of recycled materials included in the product we buy and embedding circularity
  • Segregating waste at event venue sites

What have we done to date:

  • Opt-outs
    • At the 2022 The Big Half, we partnered with Trees not Tees to give participants the option to plant a tree instead of receiving a T-shirt and/or medal. This option will be offered to participants at the TCS London Marathon, The Big Half and the Vitality London 10,000 in 2023.
  • Reducing plastic
    • Reduced the number of drinks stations at events, supplied and promoted the use of bottle belts and worked with partners to introduce alternatives to plastic – eg compostable cups for Lucozade Sport
    • Introduced reusable bungees to hold branding and signage in place to reduce the use of plastic cable ties
  • Designing out waste
    • Since 2021, all London Marathon bib numbers have been printed on-demand and event information has been provided digitally rather than printed
    • The majority of our events no longer feature a finisher bag, with participants able to choose recovery items instead
  • Product and circularity
    • In 2021 we collected event waste to make mile markers for the 2022 TCS London Marathon – event infrastructure to be used for years to come

    We now:

    • Use water bottles at the London Marathon made from 100% recycled plastic, designed to be collected separately, drained and sent for recycling to make new bottles
    • Donate leftover food and product to good causes
    • Use a store-and-reuse system for event banner roll and undated signage, which is collected and reused year after year
    • Create medal ribbons from recycled materials
    • Make kit bags from 75% recycled plastic and which are fully recyclable
    • Created benches made from waste and donated these to projects funded by our parent charity, the London Marathon Foundation
  • On-site event waste
    • In 2022 we introduced waste stations to improve recycling and compost rates, staffed by teams of dedicated volunteers
    • We partner with charities to collect discarded clothing from the start of our events, which is sent for reuse and recycling

Programmes and initiatives

We work on a number of cross-organisation programmes and partnerships to support our environmental sustainability work. Here’s a few that have taken place to date:

Mile Markers: waste recovery and circularity

In collaboration with the charity Blueprint for All and the organisation Scal3d, we produced new mile markers for the 2022 TCS London Marathon, which will be used for years to come:

  • made from recycled plastics, including waste from our events and ocean plastic

Better Bankside Business Climate Challenge: taking climate action

In 2021 we became members of the Mayor of London’s Better Bankside Business Climate Challenge.

Our pledge: to become more energy efficient and cut energy usage across our head office by more than 10 per cent in the scheme’s first year.

While we’re already on a renewable energy tariff, this pledge helps reduce demand on our energy resources while also saving costs.

Carbon balancing: partnering with Climate Impact Partners

We know that carbon offsets are not a long-term solution to damaging greenhouse gas emissions, but we believe it is better to balance our impact while we continue our work to reduce emissions. 

This is why we’ve taken the approach to offset carbon emissions we currently cannot reduce alongside a programme of reduction.

NEW PARTNER: Climate Impact Partners – specialist in market solutions for climate action

Founding members of the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA). 

We worked with our new partner to compensate our Scope 1 and travel emissions, including travel of elite athletes, staff, contractors and international participants. 

The projects we have offset our emissions through include: 

All the carbon finance projects we work with are independently audited, validated and verified to recognised global standards – the Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard (Verra).

Bottle belts and hydration packs: promoting hydration self-sufficiency

We have a duty of care to provide our participants with appropriate hydration.

All bottles we provide at our events are made from recycled plastic, designed to be collected for recycling directly by the manufacturer in a closed loop. However we also want to continue to encourage participant self-sufficiency to reduce plastic consumption at our events. 

All our participants can use their own hydration packs and we encourage them to use bottle belts. Research from 2019 showed that, on average, participants who used a bottle belt took 40 per cent fewer Buxton Natural Mineral Water bottles during the TCS London Marathon.

Frameworks and collaboration

We’re a member of the following frameworks, membership bodies and working groups, which promote collective action and knowledge-sharing across all aspects of environmental sustainability:

Reporting and policies

In 2020 we launched our first-ever environmental impact report, Leaving the Right Impression, which set out the waste, emissions and products produced and used across all our events, and at our head office and warehouse, in 2019. This report is now published annually. 

You can view this report, and our subsequent reports, below.