Working towards a plastic free Bath Half Marathon

We have always been conscious of the environmental footprint of the Bath Half Marathon, and we work hard with our suppliers, contractors, partners and volunteers to reduce waste, encourage re-use and maximise recycling, constantly challenging ourselves to do more.

In 2019 we embarked on a new challenge to eliminate single use plastic bottle drinks from our event by 2021, starting with the introduction of some changes to our water stations. This year we provided water refill points in the Runners Village, and at the on-course water stations, where runners could re-fill their own water bottles. We also provided water in compostable cups at the last of our three water stations, as an alternative to bottled water, and we monitored those stations on race day.

We were grateful for the many runners who took part in our post race survey to let us know your feedback – your opinion matters to us, as we work together to find practical solutions.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive – there is a strong feeling from runners that changes need to happen to reduce waste and plastic usage. Runners provided some great comments and thoughts on their experience and interesting ideas for the future. We’re happy to share some of the key points:

  • 37% of respondents brought their own water bottles to the race this year
  • 46% of respondents tried the compostable cups at the third water station
  • 78% of those who tried the compostable cups said they were ‘excellent’ or ‘good’

Some runners urged us to get rid of all plastic bottles straight away. Many of you commented that a few sips of water are sufficient, with a lot of water being wasted in unfinished bottles. Others said although they wouldn’t like to run carrying a refillable bottle and didn’t like cupped water, they nevertheless still understood and supported this initiative.

In 2020 we are planning to introduce cupped water at our second water station, and at the finish. We are also selling our own branded ‘BATHALF’ refillable drinks bottles through our website, and we will be reviewing our use of plastic in other areas, such as goody bags.

What could we do better? We are listening! There were some common thoughts that came up in your answers which we are keen to develop for future races:

  • More information and earlier information on how our refill points and water stations will operate, plus advice on training with a refillable bottle
  • Better sign posting for refill points

We know that bottled water at our drinks stations are only one piece of the puzzle. We are also reviewing our use of plastics, waste management and sustainability across the Bath Half experience – water stations are only one area to consider! It is our aim to reduce waste and eliminate single use plastic throughout – your support in this is invaluable, and we will continue to communicate with our runners this year to understand your thoughts – look out for further information!