UK groups urged plastic-bag-free Olympics

A London-based grassroots campaign had hopes that a plastic bag ban at the London 2012 Olympics would help earn a gold medal in sustainability.

The group, called Greener Upon Thames, launched its campaign in 2010 to ban plastic bags at the London Olympics. The campaign was packed by high-profile names, which included Richard Branson and British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) had announced plans for London 2012 to become the first sustainable games.

Zac Goldman, co-founder of Greener Upon Thames, said for the games to be truly sustainable, plastic bags should be banned.

“If the 2012 Olympics are to be the greenest ever, then banning plastic bags is a prerequisite,” he said. “They cause immense damage throughout the world, and absolutely symbolize the mindlessness of our throwaway society.”

In 2011, London Mayor Boris Johnson called for a ban on plastic bags across London and said, “I’ve set out my ambition to make London a plastic bag free city.”

However, LOCOG would not enforce ban on their suppliers and partners, but instead pledged to ban single-use plastic bags in its own shops.

A LOCOG spokesperson told the Guardian: “London 2012 is the first Games to not use any single-use or short-life disposable bags. All the bags we provide at the games will be reusable for multiple occasions and we believe that by focusing on reducing unnecessary bag usage, encouraging re-use and providing clear information about recycling, we have found the most sustainable and practical solution.”

In a letter posted on The Telegraph website, Greener Upon Thames stated they were “delighted that LOCOG made its shops plastic bag free.”

“We call on Olympic organizers, visitors, suppliers and sponsors to avoid the use of plastic bags,” the group stated. “London 2012 provides a perfect opportunity to raise awareness and leave a lasting legacy in Britain and beyond.”

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