The London Marathon

The London Marathon is the single biggest annual fundraising event on the planet, and has raised over £450 million for good causes since 1981.

The 30th London Marathon took place on Sunday 25th April 2010, and Bywaters was proud to be the recycling contractor.

The 26.2 mile course covers some of the most historic and famous sites in London such as Canary Wharf, The Cutty Sark, St Paul’s and Buckingham Palace. Bywaters is proud to have had a long association with the event as a provider of waste management, recycling and cleaning services. The 30,000 plus runners finish the race on the Mall where Bywaters has direct responsibility for ensuring that the site is kept clean throughout the event and is left spotless for the influx of tourists the next day.

  • London marathon 1
  • London marathon 2
"The 26.2 mile course covers some of the most historic and famous sites in London such as Canary Wharf, The Cutty Sark, St Paul’s and Buckingham Palace." Sam BurrowsItineris

Preparing for the Event

The London Marathon is managed with sustainability in mind, and the organisers produce an annual sustainability report. Bywaters entered discussions with the organisers 4-5 months before the event to ensure the recycling, waste management and cleaning services were developed alongside all other aspects of the event for maximum effectiveness. As experienced waste management contractors to the event, Bywaters had completed a comprehensive debrief from the previous year and this was used as the basis of the planning process to ensure the best parts of the service were enhanced and aspects that didn’t work so well were improved.

An initial cost plan was put together based on the logistics requirements (for example, number of drivers, vehicles, out of hour’s costs etc) including additional requirements such as communications, signage and training. This proposal was then submitted to the marathon representatives for consideration. After being awarded the contract Bywaters engaged in detailed discussions with the Marathon representatives to refine the details of the plan.


Key stakeholders were identified as Bywaters staff, cleaning staff, Marathon organisers and Royal Parks.

A number of detailed planning meetings were held with the organisers to ensure that the day went smoothly. All Bywaters staff involved in the event received a briefing on all aspects of the event and the litter pickers and cleaners were given a full briefing on the day of the event, and remained in phone contact throughout the event so they could be deployed quickly to any areas requiring cleaning.

Bywaters sub-contracted the cleaning of the event to a specialist company with whom Bywaters have worked for many years. Bywaters staff were in constant communication with both the cleaning manager and Royal parks throughout the event, with the key aim of ensuring that Green Park and The Mall were returned back to an excellent condition in as short a time as possible.

Bywaters solution

Bywaters provided three compactors for the 2010 Marathon – two for recyclables and one for residual waste. This reflects the organiser’s desire to maximise recycling rates and the high proportion of plastic bottles and other readily recyclable materials that were produced as waste.

Bywaters also had dedicated dustcarts on site at the end of the event. Their job was to go round the site emptying all of the bins placed down the Mall and the surrounding area.

The Day Itself

The Marathon was an incredibly successful event – sunny for spectators, but not too hot for runners - with most competitors finishing during the afternoon. Bywaters were allowed on site to begin clean-up operations at about 6pm. This was later than expected and so ongoing communication was required with the various parts of the clean-up team to ensure the clean up was conducted efficiently and within the timeframe required.

The team pulled together and despite a potential setback when one of the compactors broke down, the clean up was conducted on time and to the high standards required by Royal Parks.

After the event

An internal debrief meeting was held immediately after the event and it was decided that in future an engineer will attend the installation of the machines on site to ensure smooth operation. The Marathon operators said that this year’s event was one of the best for operational activity and the Royal Park Management commented on the pristine condition of Green Park after the event.

Recycling Rates

The 2010 Marathon was the most successful to date in terms of recycling, with a 73% recycling rate.