No time to waste

A review of Waste and Resource Management across the London 2012 Programme

March 2010

Tags: waste

The report praises:

  • exemplary work done by the ODA in recycling construction and demolition waste,
  • and by LOCOG in planning for zero-waste to landfill at Games-time.

It covers the progress being made to ensure that the dismantling and transformation phase after the Games does not become a ‘skip-fest’.

It reports concerns about waste management in the areas surrounding the Olympic and Paralympic venues and at Live Sites where people will watch the Games on big screens around the country.

Concern is also raised about the development of waste infrastructure in East London and how it is not likely that the aim to catalyse new infrastructure will happen in time for the Games. This means that organic waste from the Olympic Park will not be able to be processed locally and meet the sustainability targets.

Key Findings

  • Demolition waste targets – the ODA has reused or recycled more than 90% of demolition waste
  • Reuse – Minimal due to time and site pressures – lessons to be learnt for transformation
  • Construction waste targets – the ODA’s waste contractor has diverted over 90% from landfill
  • Concern over some incineration and the destination of waste wood
  • Commission recommends greater action to maximise sustainable transport of waste and materials going off site.
  • The ODA is exceeding recycled material and recycled content targets
  • LOCOG’s Games-time targets of zero waste to landfill and 70% reused, recycled or composted are challenging but achievable
  • We are impressed by the drive and commitment of LOCOG officers in embedding zero waste principles throughout the organisation
  • LOCOG has a stretch target that 90% of materials arising during installation and deconstruction of temporary infrastructure are reused or recycled and is developing plans to achieve this
  • If LOCOG can implement their plans they will deliver an exemplary waste solution for the Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • Plans are being developed for the transformation after the Games but there is a need for greater clarity over responsibilities in this area.
  • Targets are needed for reuse of assets and materials during the dismantling and transformation phases
  • ‘Live sites’, where the public will gather to watch events on big screens, and areas immediately surrounding the venues across the UK should set the same high standards of waste management as the venues
  • The development of new waste infrastructure, particularly for organic waste, has been slow. This is due to:
    • London’s complex waste governance structures,
    • industry not bringing schemes forward that are suitable for development and satisfy the relevant funding criteria, and
    • the time taken to get programmes to the point where they can support them
  • The Commission urges the London Waste and Recycling Board to continue funding new viable projects, in particular new infrastructure to process organic waste in time for the Games and to supply zero carbon heat and power to the Olympic Park in legacy


  • That the London Development Agency, through the London Waste and Recycling Board, fund additional new commercially viable waste management facilities for the processing of organic waste in East London that are fully operational by Games-time. The Commission’s view is that this needs to be achieved in a critical window to 30 June 2010 in order to have any chance of being operational for Games-time.
  • “That the London 2012 Sustainability Group set out how the management of waste and resources in the post-Games bump-out/breakdown phase and subsequent transformation phase will be co-ordinated and where responsibility will lie. This encompasses the operations of City Operations, HMG, LOCOG and the ODA and how they will all maximise reuse of materials.

This needs to:

  • include how responsibility for the end use of temporary materials, demolition and construction materials will be coordinated;
  • have as its main objective the sale and reuse of these materials, including setting a specific target for reuse, then the recycling and recovery of materials, according to the optimal option in carbon terms for the specific item or material;
  • take reasonable endeavours to reuse or recycle at least 90 per cent, by weight, of the material arising from the installation and deconstruction of temporary venues, equipment and overlay;
  • be set out as soon as possible in order to be able to influence decisions relating to all operational aspects, including logistics, transport, regulatory compliance, security, and health and safety;
  • report on progress and present a final report to the Olympic Board or relevant responsible body at the end of the entire operation. ”
  • That the Olympic Park Legacy Company develops an integrated waste and energy strategy for the legacy developments on the Olympic Park. This should use organic waste to derive biogas and maximise the renewable energy available to the legacy communities and facilities, with the ultimate aim of creating an exemplar zero carbon community in the Lower Lea Valley. Local employment opportunities should be considered as part of this strategy.
  • That the Olympic Delivery Authority reports separately on each of the three components of the construction waste target, being the proportions and tonnage of construction waste reused, recycled, or recovered; and that this also is done for the organisations responsible for subsequent phases of the London 2012 programme.
  • That the Olympic Delivery Authority works with their waste contractor to reduce the quantity of waste being sent to conventional incineration.
  • That the Olympic Delivery Authority, through the site-wide waste contractor, investigates the final use of all wood sent for recycling and reports accordingly.
  • That the ODA work with their waste contractor to measure, manage and report on the transport methods for materials leaving the Olympic Park site during construction and aim to increase the quantity transported by sustainable means (rail or water).
  • That LOCOG report on how materials under its direct control and influence are transported from venues during all phases of its Games operations and maximise the use of more sustainable transportation modes (e.g. low / zero emission road vehicles, rail and water).
  • That City Operations teams, both in London and other locations around the country, set objectives for waste management that are consistent with those adopted by London 2012 and that particular emphasis be made on ensuring non LOCOG-controlled external venues fully meet these standards.
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