The Supply Chain Sustainability School
London 2012: a catalyst for sustainable waste management practice?
December 2009 saw the second edition of the London 2012 sustainability plan. As Chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 I am responsible for independent assurance of sustainability for the London 2012 programme and I advise the political leaders on the Olympic Board, co-chaired by the Mayor of London and the Olympics Minister. I am also charged with reporting honestly to the public on how sustainable the programme really is.
The concept of having an over-arching sustainability plan was one of the Commission's early recommendations and I am pleased to see the second edition is a significant improvement on the first. Some of the major issues we have raised about carbon footprint, HFC and PVC are well on the way to being resolved and in many ways, London 2012 is truly setting new standards of sustainability.
With regard to waste management, we have always seen a mixed picture. There is no doubt that the Olympic Delivery Authority is setting a new benchmark for the construction industry in the same way that Usain Bolt sets world records. Against a target of 90% diverted from landfill during demolition the actual achievement is closer to 97%, during construction, the same 90% target has been set and after a difficult start, is now being achieved as an aggregated volume across the project. The use of a site-wide waste contractor with financial incentives and penalties for project contractors to segregate their waste is really paying off, combined with the use of a local MRF. We would like to see more transported by barge but we cannot deny this is an impressive performance.
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has set a target of zero waste to landfill during the Games. It would be churlish to ask for a target better than zero and we have been impressed with the plans we have seen to date to make this happen. However, we believe that the rest of London needs to step up to support this target. There is an acute shortage of sustainable organic waste disposal facilities in East London and we are concerned that LOCOG may need to put their waste on a convoy of trucks to Bedford or beyond, or on a barge to Holland or Germany. We became frustrated with the inactivity of the London Waste and Recycling Board to support schemes in the area and we are relieved to see that funding for one site has been released, we hope to see more in the near future. There is a need to develop more facilities in East London in order for the London 2012 team to say they are acting as a catalyst. We are more optimistic that facilities will be ready in time for the Games but the proof of the organic pudding is in the eating.
Whilst impressive targets had been set for Games and construction waste, the first edition of the Plan was silent on the issue of what happens after the games. The new edition sets a target of "reasonable endeavours" to achieve 90% diversion from landfill. This is a massive task, including disposal of enough tensile plastic to wrap the Canary Wharf tower twice, temporary seating for tens of thousands of spectators, temporary furniture in the Olympic Village and much, much more. All this will need to be achieved in an organisation structure that will be shedding staff faster than a moulting Labrador can shed hairs on your best trousers. Plans for this huge challenge are in early stages and we will need to see much more to be convinced that it will happen. However, London 2012 has an impressive team and we hope to report more progress in 2010.
We have been recommending that something is done about waste to energy in East London for more than 2 years. Whilst the Olympic Park has a very impressive energy infrastructure, it is based on Combined Heat and Power (CHP) powered by natural gas. Given that East London has abundant food waste it seems obvious to use sustainable waste disposal processes to generate gas and create a zero carbon park. We had hoped this would happen in time for the Games but a heady brew of perceived technical and commercial barriers mixed with a heaped tablespoon of bureaucracy have combined to scupper this. However, thanks to the personal intervention of the Mayor and other senior figures we are becoming more optimistic that this objective may be possible in legacy and that the Park will be ready to support the governments policy for zero carbon homes by 2016, in this way we can start to believe that the Olympic Park will live up to its objective of being a "blueprint for sustainable living".
To download the London 2012 sustainability plan,
Other Users Feedback
Has the waste management contract been awarded yet - if yes please can you advise who the contractor is
Jennifer Watts, JMW Consultants Limited - 31/10/2010
Zero Waste is indeed an admirable goal for the 2012 Olympics and achieving 90%+ diversion for all food and food service wares and packaging is feasible.
The question is is there the composting capacity tp process it?
My question is the same as Jennifer Watts... has the WM Contract been let and if so who is the contractor?
Phil Ragan , Plastics Solutions Inc. - 13/02/2011
it is fabbby
Maria Sharapova, Dots - 27/04/2011
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