London 2012 Olympics' goal of sending zero waste to landfill, including requirement of compostable foodservice packaging, expected to make event a blueprint for sustainable packaging in future, but challenges abound

LOS ANGELES , July 6, 2012 () – London’s 2012 Olympic Games, with a particular emphasis on sustainable packaging, is making the event a blueprint for such efforts in the future, Packaging News reported on July 6.

Achieving the Games’ goal of sending zero waste to landfill is a challenge.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) determined that 70% of the waste from the games would be recycled, reused, or composted, while the remainder would be sent to energy-from-waste facilities. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog), has been carrying out the mandate.

Locog’s head of sustainability, David Stubbs, and Phil Cumming, its corporate sustainability manager, Phil Cumming, began working six years ago on delivering the sustainable program for the Games.

Though the 70% figure was deemed achievable, a key area of focus was catering, because 40% of total waste was likely to be from food or food-contaminated packaging.

A considerable mount of the packaging at the various sites, in particular foodservice packaging, is required to be compostable, manufactured from such materials as uncoated paper, bagasse, and biodegradable plastics. All of the packaging has to meet the European standard EN13432.

Also there will be hardly any glass or metal packaging at the London games.

Two of the Games’ sponsors, McDonald’s Corp. and The Coca-Cola Co., which have the sole rights to sell food and drink at the 2012 Olympic sites, have been closely involved in the Games’ sustainability goal.

Katherine Symonds, head of sustainable Games at Coca-Cola, said drinks will be sold in PET bottles containing 25% recycled content, in keeping with the stipulation that PET should be the single pack type for the company’s products during the Games, as well as for London. As well, the company will use its PlantBottle packaging, which contains up to 22.5% plant-based material, for all Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero drinks it serves at London 2012 venues.

Locog has been working with a range of partners in a mini-working group that includes Wrap, the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), BPIF Cartons, Innovia and Amcor, Packaging News reported.

As for disposal of waste at the Games is also a challenge. Although a color-coded system has been developed--green for recycling; orange for compostable packaging; and black for non-recyclables—spectators can’t necessarily be counted on to use them. Locog believes the best way to combat this is through communication, and spectator guides will be handed out with tickets.

The primary source of this article is Packaging News, Croydon, England, on July 6, 2012.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.