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First Marathon to Swap Plastic Bottles for Biodegradable Pouches Made Out of Plants

Rather than giving plastic water bottles to the 41,000 athletes who participated in the London Marathon this weekend, the runners were given little biodegradable blobs as a means of reducing plastic waste.

The London Marathon became the first full marathon to replace their plastic bottles with the edible Ooho water bottles.

The Ooho packaging, which is made entirely out of sustainable seaweed extracts, only costs about 2 cents to make.

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Designed by London-based startup Skipping Rocks Labs, the tasteless biodegradable container is made out of a thin, flexible membrane composed of sodium alginate – a natural derivative of brown algae – and calcium chloride.

It can either be ripped open so the runner can drink the liquid out of the membrane, or the pods can simply be consumed whole like a cherry tomato.

The water containers have successfully been tested during several smaller sports events, such as the Harrow Half-Marathon back in September, but this week’s full marathon was the largest trial of the edible containers to date.

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Over 30,000 Ooho capsules of sports drink were distributed to the runners during the marathon. Combined with the event’s other eco-friendly initiatives, the packaging helped to save over 200,000 plastic bottles from being used on the course.

The biodegradable bottles were part of the London Marathon Event’s (LME) commitment to achieving zero landfill waste by December 2020.

“It is a huge challenge as we must balance providing proper runner welfare with reducing our environmental impact,” says LME event director Hugh Brasher. “We can’t achieve everything in one event, in one year, but the changes and the trials we’re introducing for this year have the potential to change how mass participation events are delivered in future. Everyone can make a difference: our participants, spectators, contractors, volunteers and staff.”

(WATCH the video below) – Photo by Lucozade Sport

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