In an attempt to reduce unnecessary plastic waste, runners at the London Marathon will be handed seaweed pouches instead of water bottles.
Don’t worry, they won’t be running the entire race without drinking any water; the 41,000 or so runners will only be given the pouches at mile 23.
Calls for organisers to reduce the huge amount of plastic waste at the marathon have abounded in recent years, with many asking for single use plastic to be banned completely.
I loved #LondonMarathon18 & am so inspired that I’m thinking of signing up next year. BUT. Single use plastic has to stop. I cycled past this in Charlton minutes after the race, which represents a tiny stretch of the 26 mile track. We have to change. #endsingleuseplastics pic.twitter.com/kG4i05RfMr
— Charity Wakefield (@charitywakefld) April 23, 2018
The introduction of seaweed pouches is just one way marathon organisers hope to reduce their plastic use, and are aiming to cut the number of plastic bottles used by 200,000.
If you don’t like the taste of seaweed though, don’t be put off; the thin membrane that forms the pod is edible and tasteless and won’t taste like seaweed at all.
Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez, one of the startup’s founders, said:
What we use is the building blocks of seaweed. We remove all the green stuff and the smelly stuff.
The pouches, which biodegrade within just six weeks if they’re not eaten, are made for people on the move – for example, runners and music festival attendees.
They can be filled with a variety of liquids, with Pierre-Yves Paslier, Gonzalez’s business partner, saying Espresso Martinis are the most popular product at festivals. Obviously, they won’t be in use at the marathon.
Tomorrow’s race marks the first time the pods will be used at a marathon, with Gonzalez saying:
The marathon is a milestone… we are hoping we will demonstrate that it can be used at scale in the future.
Gonzalez and Paslier met while studying innovative design engineering in London, and say the mission of their company is to ‘make plastic packaging disappear’.
As well as the seaweed pods, Skipping Rocks Lab is also working on green alternatives to cling film and the plastic liners used in throwaway coffee cups.
And the pods are just one way organisers of the marathon are planning to make the event more sustainable, with London Marathon Events committing to zero waste to landfill by December 2020 through improved procurement, maximising reuse and recycling.
In a statement, Hugh Brasher, the Event Director, said:
We know our participants share our passion and want us to take action. It is a huge challenge as we must balance providing proper runner welfare with reducing our environmental impact.
We can’t achieve everything in one event, in one year, but the changes and the trials we’re introducing for this year have the potential to change how mass participation events are delivered in future.
Everyone can make a difference: our participants, spectators, contractors, volunteers and staff.
What an incredible initiative; hopefully other events will follow their lead and plastic waste can be drastically reduced in the years to come.
You can watch the London Marathon tomorrow (April 28) at 10am on BBC1.
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