Single use plastic bottles banned from half marathon in London

Single use plastic bottles banned from half marathon in London

Runners will not be able to refill bottles, with water distributed in pouches made from seaweed instead

Masses of discarded water bottles during the London Marathon.
Masses of discarded water bottles during the London Marathon. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

The capital’s first marathon event pledging to be completely free of “single use” plastic drinks bottles is to take place in north-west London.

The Harrow half marathon on Sunday 16 September will be the first time that London has staged a single use plastic-free running event.

Single use plastic bottles are banned from the course. But runners will be able to rehydrate themselves at water stations along the 13.1 mile course with Ooho, water in biodegradable sachets made from a seaweed-based membrane. Participants can either nip the edge and drink the water or consume the entire capsule.

Runners will not be able to refill their own bottles. Regular water and biodegradable cups will be available but only as a backup in case of exceptionally high demand

Plastic – what’s the problem?

The makers of Ooho, which is biodegradable within six weeks, claim it is a world first and say it aims to curb the devastating effects of plastic on the oceans and the environment.

The move comes as running event companies tackle the issue of plastic wastage at races across the UK. Oohos filled with Lucozade sports drinks and gels will be trialled at the Richmond marathon – also on 16 September – and Tough Mudder in West Sussex on 29 September.

At this year’s London Marathon, compostable cups were trialled for the first time to try to reduce the volume of plastic bottles used and discarded along the track. 90,000 of the recyclable cups were put at three drink stations along the 26.2 mile (42.1km) route.

Last year the Guardian reported that a million plastic bottles are sold worldwide every minute, a large proportion ending up in landfill or in the oceans.

As part of his drive to reduce single use plastic bottles in London, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has committed to delivering up to 20 new water fountains across the city this year. In addition to a new fountain in Carnaby Street in the West End, three more will follow this summer – two in Liverpool Street station and one in Bankside’s Flat Iron Square.

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