London 2012 declared the most sustainable Olympics to date

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Thursday, November 29, 2012

<p>The London 2012 Games was the first Olympics to implement an active spectator programme which encouraged spectators to use non-motorised forms of transport</p>

The London 2012 Games was the first Olympics to implement an active spectator programme which encouraged spectators to use non-motorised forms of transport

London 2012 has been declared the most sustainable Olympic Games of the modern era in a recently released post games report London 2012 – From vision to reality, compiled by the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012.  Shaun McCarthy, the Chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, states in the report “Whilst there are always things that can be improved we have no hesitation in confirming that London 2012 has delivered the most sustainable Games ever.”

A learning legacy website has been developed so that the lessons learnt from London 2012 can be used by cities around the world that are striving to host sustainable mega-events like the Olympic Games. McCarthy adds in the report, “We hope that future major events and infrastructure projects take note of what has been achieved by London 2012 and raise the bar even higher in future”.

London 2012 – From vision to reality

The independent report addresses the sustainability performance of the 2012 Olympic Games and highlights the areas where targets were met and where targets were not achieved. The findings are based on observations and data gathered by the independent commission during the 2012 Games and is presented according to a number of sustainability themes, including: Food; Waste; Energy; and, Transport.


Zero waste to landfill

Preliminary indicators are that London 2012 achieved its target of zero waste to landfill. Furthermore it is predicted that at least 70% of the waste generated during the Games was reused, recycled or composted. These targets were achieved by implementing a user friendly waste separation system for spectators and integrating waste, materials, food and packaging policies.

First public transport games

London 2012 succeeded in providing an efficient public transport system for all spectators, according to the post-Games report. Ticketholders were given a Games Travel card to use for public transport to the events which functioned well. Furthermore a comprehensive transport plan was developed to reroute background demand in London and enable spectators to get to their events easily by public transport or non-motorised transport. This was also the first Games to put together an active spectator programme to encourage the public to cycle and walk to venues.

A sustainable food policy

For the first time in Olympic history a sustainable food policy, London 2012 Food Vision, was developed. Sustainably sourced food was available at most venues and healthy, fresh and diverse food on offer. One of the areas where targets were not achieved was in the affordability area where free public venues, called ‘Live Sites’, did not permit spectators to bring their own food resulting in an increase in expenditure for spectators.

Areas where targets were not met

Slow development of an energy conservation plan

At the outset London 2012 aimed to source 20% of the energy required for the Games from new onsite renewable sources. However it became clear in the planning phase that only 9% of the energy required would be from renewable sources. As a result the organising committee was advised to develop an energy conservation plan to demonstrate how carbon emissions could be reduced to achieve a similar level of savings to that which would have been generated by the renewable sources. The Sustainability report criticised the organisers for developing the energy conservation plan late as it believes that higher energy savings could have been made if the plan had been initiated sooner.

Lack of information regarding sustainability at the venues

The limited amount of information made available to spectators regarding the sustainability of the venues, village buildings and infrastructure was criticised by the report which highlighted that this presented a missed opportunity for increased education around sustainability.

The final London 2012 Sustainability report by the London Organising Committee that will contain performance data and statistics will be released in December 2012.

To keep updated with sustainability news subscribe to the fortnightly Urban Earth Newsletter.


Amanda Botes