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Interview with CEO of Virgin Sport announcing new Will Smith collaboration


This week, Will Smith announced a new exciting eco-positive partnership between JUST Goods and Virgin Sport by posting a personal video to his 35 million Instagram followers!

Why has Virgin Sport decided to create the most eco-friendly mass participation sporting events in the UK?

As a mass participation event company, we promote health and wellbeing, and we don’t want to stop with personal health. We want to consider the health of the planet and the impact of our events on the environment.

What action is being taken to eliminate single use plastic your races?

This year we are eliminating over 500,000 single use plastic bottles from all race routes across our three events, Hackney Half, ASICS London 10K and Oxford Half. The Hackney Half Marathon in May 2019 was the largest race in the UK to eliminate single use plastic bottles, having removed 190,000 single use plastic bottles from the route and 35,000 from the finish line. That’s something we are really proud of.

We are also excited to say that the ASICS London 10K will be the first Virgin Sport race to replace plastic kit bags with long-life natural cotton tote bags. These cotton totes will be implemented at all our events moving forward.

What difficulties have you faced removing plastic bottles?

Eliminating plastic comes at a cost. The 100% recyclable cups we’re using are more expensive than plastic water bottles, and we have to recruit additional volunteers to staff aid stations and fill the cups. We also pay for waste management services to ensure that the cups are recycled properly in a closed-loop process. At the same time we’re teaching runners how to drink from a cup during a race – it’s not as easy as you might think!

Where do you see a synergy between Virgin Sport & JUST Water?

Virgin Sport and JUST Water have the shared objective of reducing single use plastic and both businesses were conceived during a sporting activity. Will, Jaden and Richard all share a passion for sport and there is an added layer of looking after the wellbeing of the planet.

We are really excited to be working with JUST Goods who will be providing their 100% recyclable JUST Water cartons at the ASICS London 10K finish line, eliminating  19,000 single-use plastic water bottles.

What other action is being taken as part of Virgin Sport’s wider sustainability pledge?

Our sustainability initiatives in 2019 are focused on reduction of single use plastic and waste in our supply chain. For example, instead of posting all race packs before each event, we are encouraging runners to use public transportation and pick up their race pack before the event. This allows us to eliminate packaging for thousands of race packs.

We also partner with brands that prioritize sustainability and share our objective of reducing single use plastic. Alongside JUST Water, other partners include Zipcar which is encouraging people to rideshare and use its electric hire vehicles, and electrolyte drink partner NUUN who will be using 100% recyclable cups to help replenish runners out on course.