CSR at the Heart of London 2012 Olympics

Partnerships between the organisers of London’s 2012 Olympics and its sponsors are resulting in a truly ‘green Games’.

Sustainability has been addressed in every aspect of the Olympics’ organisation and development, says a new report. CSR partnerships have played a key role in this. The report, A Blueprint for Change, outlines how the London Olympics will break new ground in its green achievements.

One element of which organisers are particularly proud is delivering a low-carbon Olympics. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOGOC) has developed a new way of assessing carbon emissions, which it says is helping drive down its carbon footprint. Its report says it is on target to cut its footprint by 10,000 tonnes of CO2 due to how it has procured materials and built the venue.

Importantly, from a CSR perspective, LOGOC credits BT, one of its partners, with adopting the new method of assessing emissions itself. As a result, there will be just one communications network during the Games. This will reduce energy consumption and waste, and should increase possibilities for reuse. Coca Cola is also planning to use the LOGOC model and minimise energy use during the Games. However, the report did not give details on how this would be achieved.

The majority of ambitious CSR targets covering climate change, biodiversity, waste, inclusion and healthy living are ‘on track’. These include a wide variety of detailed areas. For example, LOGOC committed to transport 50% of construction materials to the site by rail or water.

Waste targets were particularly stretching, and 98.5% of demolition waste on site has been recycled, or reused. During the Games, 70% of waste will be reused, recycled or composted.

McDonald’s, another partner, whose presence as a sponsor has already been questioned, is examining how it will reduce waste. One option is sending waste to an energy recovery facility and trials are currently taking place.

By making ‘inclusion’ a target, the Olympic organisers have highlighted an area which could easily have been overlooked. The impact of such a project on the local community is a test of its CSR value. Interestingly, it is in this area that targets have been exceeded. 75% of previously unemployed people placed into work in construction, were from the five London Boroughs hosting the Olympics.

By the time the Games begin in 2012, the Olympics will also have seen 2,250 people in traineeships or apprenticeships. At least 82% of people working on the site are being paid the London Living Wage – an amount above the minimum, recognising the high costs of living in the capital.

What has been achieved to date is impressive. This is the first of three reports to be published on sustainability. It will be a feather in the UK’s cap if the targets currently on track are met by the time of the final report.

Photo credit: Ben Sutherland