Seaweed Pods To Replace Plastic Bottles At London Marathon

In the race to cut down on plastic waste, London Marathon organisers have stepped up to the starting line.

Traditionally, marathons leave behind huge amounts of waste, made up mostly of discarded plastic cups and single-use water bottles which have been tossed to the side by competing athletes.

This year, the London Marathon is addressing the issue by replacing thousands of water bottles with edible seaweed pouches.

Ooho capsules at Mile 23 will be filled with Lucozade Sport, an electrolyte drink.
Image: CBS / Charlie Crowhurst

Made by London-based startup Skipping Rocks Lab, the little pods are designed to be both edible and biodegradable -- if runners don't wish to eat them, they biodegrade within six weeks.

Competitors are able to bite into the capsules to release the liquid, and then decide whether to spit or swallow.

According to the Lucozade website, "the experience is similar to eating a cherry tomato".

The pods themselves are tasteless and can be filled with a wide variety of liquids. For the London Marathon, they will be filled with the electrolyte drink Lucozade Sport.

More than 30,000 pods will be handed out at mile 23 of the race by gloved volunteers.

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The move is part of the London Marathon's goal to achieve zero waste by 2020.

"We are passionate about the concept of Eliminate, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and fully committed to reducing our environmental impact," Event Director Hugh Brasher said in a statement.

"We believe we run the best mass participation events in the world and we want to match that by leading the world in mass participation event sustainability."

As well as seaweed pods, the marathon will only have 19 drink stations throughout the race instead of the standard 26, in order to reduce plastic bottles by more than 215,000.

Three of these stations will provide compostable cups rather than bottles, and a new closed-loop recycling project will collect any bottles along the route so they can be transported to a processing plant to be recycled.

While this isn't the first time athletes have been provided with seaweed capsules instead of single-use cups, according to race officials it will be the largest trial of Ooho capsules to date.

London's first single-use plastic-free running event was run back in 2018, after the Harrow half marathon banned plastic bottles from the course.

Runners rehydrated using the same Ooho sachets, which have since been used at a number of British running events including the Richmond marathon and Tough Mudder.