Let the Games Begin…to Make Scotland’s Events More Sustainable

Laboratory conditions are what every scientist needs to create a successful formula.

Written By Iain Gulland - Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland  |  7 Nov 14

Laboratory conditions are what every scientist needs to create a successful formula.

This summer, we had a rare opportunity to test a formula for encouraging mass participation in sustainability measures like recycling, composting and diverting waste from landfill.

What better conditions in which to test the roll-out of mass recycling and sustainability measures that one of the greatest sporting shows on earth, the Commonwealth Games, hosted memorably by Glasgow in July and August of this year.

Events are a key sector for us to tackle in terms of encouraging recycling and re-use, due to their high profile and heavy impact in terms of resource use.

That’s why Zero Waste Scotland worked closely with Glasgow 2014, including co-opting a member of staff to the team, to embed a “reduce, re-use and recycle” focus in the Games’ management.

This spectacular event has achieved some equally impressive results off the field: 86% of waste diverted from landfill; recycling almost half of all waste during the Games; introducing fully compostable plates, cups and bottles and composting 60 tonnes of food waste – a first for a major event in Scotland.

In achieving all this, Glasgow 2014 set a new benchmark for event sustainability management both for the Commonwealth Games and for events in Scotland, being awarded the coveted ISO 20121 – the gold international standard in sustainable event management.

I was lucky enough to visit the Games myself and paid close attention to this – and our many, many international visitors will also have taken note of just what can be achieved in terms of sustainability and reducing the resource impact of major events, despite the issues which come with management of huge numbers of people.

Scotland’s political leaders have offered congratulations on this success, but we should remember that, now they know what can be achieved, they will be expecting future events staged in Scotland to replicate and build on the achievements of Glasgow 2014.

Zero Waste Scotland has anticipated this and we also understand how important major events are to Scotland’s economy. We’ve been working with Events Scotland on a sustainable events guide to capture learning from the success of Glasgow and also Gleneagles in staging the Ryder Cup in September.

Many variables were at play in achieving these strides in sustainability: human effort; good planning and procurement; great facilities; clear communications.

These events provided outstanding laboratory conditions for lessening the resource impact of major events: it’s up to us to repeat the formula in future years.

This blog is also available on the Legacy 2014 website HERE

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