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Glasgow 2014 delivers winning performance in sustainability and waste management

Issued by Glasgow 2014 and Zero Waste Scotland.

Hundreds of thousands of people who played a part in making Glasgow 2014 the best-ever Commonwealth Games and the biggest sporting event in Scotland’s history also played a key role in setting new and world-class benchmarks in sustainability.

Working in collaboration with resource efficiency experts Zero Waste Scotland, and having developed and implemented a Procurement Sustainability Policy, Glasgow 2014 set out to deliver a Commonwealth Games with a ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ focus and one which met ground-breaking event sustainability management targets.

In doing so 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.

The core objectives of Glasgow 2014’s Cleaning and Waste programme were to successfully deliver:

  • The planning, control and delivery of cleaning and waste services to all customer groups at villages and Venues
  • The delivery of a Cleaning and Waste service which complemented Glasgow 2014’s sustainability objectives
  • To maintain a clean and safe environment

Final reports demonstrate a number of key achievements which included:

  • Diverting 86% of waste from landfill during Games time, beating an 80% target
  • Recycling 49% of ALL waste during Games time
  • Pioneering the use of fully compostable plates, cups and recyclable bottles for food and drinks packaging Supporting the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ principles which encouraged caterers and suppliers to consider packaging of raw materials, chemicals, delivery methods and sourcing of products
  • Composting 60 tonnes of food waste – including peelings and trimmings – thanks to separation of food waste at venues: a first for a major event in Scotland
  • Ensuring all waste was removed efficiently and effectively with minimal impact to client groups or communities
  • Up to 12 different waste streams – from plastic bottles to batteries - separated at the point of collection
  • Clear recycling signage using the Recycle for Scotland branding, and supported by volunteers to help people use the correct bins

Commenting on Glasgow 2014’s achievements in recycling and waste management, Glasgow 2014 Chief Executive David Grevemberg said:

“Glasgow 2014 has to thank our athletes, Games Partners and Games Family, spectators, our volunteers and absolutely everyone who played a part in helping us achieve such a great performance in delivering a sustainable Commonwealth Games.

“In doing so, we have met targets and also set a new gold standard in delivering major events in Scotland in a sustainable way. Sustainability was at the core of all our decisions and not an added extra or bolted on strategy and it was our aim  to contribute to making positive and lasting changes in the way we use natural and human resources to improve quality of life for all; now and in the future.”

Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead said:

“The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games was the biggest sporting and cultural event ever staged in Scotland, and I saw first-hand the sheer scale of the efforts to make it as sustainable as possible.

“I was particularly impressed by the Recycling Ambassadors who volunteered to help people sort their waste, and I am sure innovative measures such as these made a real and positive contribution to what was achieved. I now look forward to seeing how we can build on this valuable experience to help make other major events in Scotland as green as possible.” 


Caption: Richard Lochhead meets with Recycling Ambassadors at the Festival 14 Glasgow Green site

 Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“Events of the scale of the Commonwealth Games can be very challenging operationally and logistically, but we were delighted to work with Glasgow 2014 and Games Partners to make sure sustainability was at the heart of decision making from the outset.  

“Like the many thousands of people who visited Games Venues, I was struck by the very visible effort that had been made to separate materials for recycling, including food waste and compostable packaging, which was genuinely innovative for an event of this scale.   These achievements are testimony to the efforts made both by the organisers, volunteers, athletes and spectators to make a difference.

“It’s also significant that we can use the experience of Glasgow 2014 to help other major events and we will be working with Events Scotland and others to develop a sustainable events guide as a key Legacy initiative.”

In recognition of its achievements in sustainability, Glasgow 2014 was also awarded ISO 20121, the international standard for Sustainable Event Management, the only global sporting event this year to be certified to be awarded this standard.  This was testament to the fact that Glasgow 2014 considered sustainability from an early stage of planning and ensured it was integrated into the Games management system.

The Glasgow 2014 Procurement Sustainability Policy sought to ensure that labour, social, waste, transport and material sustainability considerations were embedded throughout the procurement process. The policy covered the purchase of goods, services and sponsorship and highlighted the importance of sustainable, ethical and socially-aware resourcing; factors that were also recognised by Scotland’s achievement of Fair Trade Nation status in 2013.

One of Glasgow 2014’s obligations was to stage a Games with responsible environmental and sustainability standards. It aimed to minimise its impact on the environment and seek opportunities that will enhance the environment. One way of doing this is to adopt a strategy of sourcing local food, where possible, from sustainable and traceable sources. Glasgow 2014 has produced a Food Charter to demonstrate its commitment to taking proper account of the sustainability in the food provided at the Games. Glasgow 2014 also aimed to promote healthy living via the provision of a variety of authentic foods, including healthier options. The charter signalled Glasgow 2014’s intention to promote four themes: sustainability and culture; resource and provision; diversity, consistency and health; and standard practice.

Zero Waste Scotland will be working with Glasgow 2014 and Events Scotland to develop a Legacy initiative, sharing experience with others through a Sustainable Events Guide.