London Marathon Goes Green – Swaps Plastic Bottles For Edible Seaweed Pods

Single-use plastic use (like plastic bottles) is wreaking our planet, and one of the biggest culprits are public events like marathons where you’d often see thousands of plastic bottles and trash left behind after the event. Fortunately, London Marathon Events (LME), decided to take a more sustainable stance this year and tackled this problem by handing out edible seaweed pods packed with energy drink to runners instead of plastic water bottles at 2019 London Marathon last Sunday.

London Marathon Ditches Platic Bottles For Edible Seaweed Pods - Ecofriendly biodegradable packagingImage by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Lucozade Sport

The small biodegradable Ooho pods, distributed at Sunday’s marathon, are made by the London-based startup Skipping Rocks Lab. For the marathon, the pods were filled with Lucozade Sport, an electrolyte drink, and handed over to ~30,000 runners by volunteers during the event. These innovative and sustainable pods are designed to be both edible and biodegradable, and they’re also vegan. They are made from notpla, a material made from seaweed and plants that disappear, naturally.

So how does it work? You can pop-in the pod in your mouth and it dissolves or can be swallowed, since the pods are tasteless, you only taste the water or the liquid that is packed inside the pods. If someone does not want to eat the pouch, they can bite it, drink up the liquid and throw the cover on the floor. The beauty is it will biodegrade itself in 6 weeks.

These edible water bottles were first tested at a half-marathon last September in Harrow, a suburb of London. In addition to marathons, these pods have been used at music festivals where the company filled them with cocktails.

This year’s event, though, was not completely plastic bottle free, with water bottles available at shops along the route. According to Forbes, there were about 700,00 plastic bottles used at this event, instead of 900,000 last year. However, the organizers committed to recycling these bottles through a ”closed-loop system” where the bottles will be handed to runners and afterward collected and returned directly to a bottle processing plant to turn them into new bottles. In addition to the bottles, the organizers also made sure all the cups used at the event were also compostable.

For the future, LME says it is committed to being zero-waste by December 2020. “We are passionate about the concept of Eliminate, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and fully committed to reducing our environmental impact,” said Event Director Hugh Brasher. “We believe we run the best mass participation events in the world and we want to match that by leading the world in mass participation event sustainability.”

These innovative pods are easily renewable and are made from easily available and cheap seaweed – a smart solution to the single-use plastic packaging.

Look forward to more such efforts by marathons and other public events across the world to fight the plastic problem!


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