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Tackling the plastic problem

Every year the UK produces millions of tonnes of single-use plastic waste, which takes hundreds of years to decompose. 


In the US and the UK, around 550 million plastic straws are thrown away every day. 

Worldwide, over 500 million plastic bottles are used every year. 

As of 2015, approximately 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste had been generated. Only 9% of this was recycled!

It's likely that about 10 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans each year.

The issue of single-use plastic has captured the public’s imagination following the final episode of the BBC’s Blue Planet II, which showed the devastating impact of humans on the world’s seas. 


Video Source: BBC Blue Planet II 


ExCeL taking action!


At ExCeL, we take this issue very seriously and are committed to managing our venue in a way that minimises the amount of plastic waste that we generate. 

We have been taking steps to tackle the plastic problem across the venue. So far, we have:

Removed plastic straws from point of sale at all the food and drink outlets inside the venue. Straws are only available upon request. 

Introduced two permanent fountains for refillable bottles, providing our guests with free, chilled drinking water.

Encouraged our retail partners to provide a discount to all guests who bring along a re-useable coffee cup. You can search for our retailers who provide a ‘latte levy’.

Learn more

Changed our bins on the central boulevard. We know that contaminated waste results in lots of items that could be recycled, ending up in landfill. We have upgraded all our bins and added new waste streams so that we can increase the amount of waste that can be recycled. 

Added a sticker system so that guests have more information on which of our food and drink retailers offer a coffee discount for reuseable, provide water refills and use compostable materials for their packaging. 

For further information on our sustainability policy.

Click here

Some FAQ’s around plastic and recycling at ExCeL:

Why don’t you prohibit the sale of plastic bottles?

For some events, health and safety requirements mean that only plastic bottles are permitted. We are looking at alternative packaging for bottled water including tins and glass and hope to introduce this once existing stock has been sold.


Why are the coffee cups on the ExCeL boulevard not recycled?

Coffee cups are very difficult to recycle. It's the mixture of paper and plastic in their inner lining — designed to make them both heat and leakproof — that causes difficulties.

There are currently only a small number of specialist plants in the UK able to process the disposable used cups, and as a result, the vast majority of them don't get recycled.

At ExCeL, we are looking into suppliers of fully compostable coffee cups but in the meantime, to reduce the amount of waste generated, we are encouraging our retailers to offer discounts to all guests who bring along their reuseable coffee cups!

What happens to food waste at ExCeL?

Vegetable waste from our production kitchens goes to our onsite wormery and is used to create fertilizer for the estate. The remaining food waste from the boulevard and kitchens is disposed by BIFFA, using an anaerobic digestion facility that processes the food waste into renewable energy. This process also produces 42,000 tonnes of PAS110 accredited digestate each year which is used as a fertilizer on local farm land.


What can I recycle at ExCeL?

Our bins are separated into waste streams for cardboard/ paper, plastic bottles/cans, glass, biodegradable packaging and general waste.


I want to use the water fountains on the boulevard. Do you sell refillable water bottles?

Yes we do! Refillable water bottles can be purchased from Business Services, located on level 0 next to the car park entrance.

There is still lots to do and we are working with our clients and guests to explore further ways to reduce single-use plastic use across the venue. If you have any ideas or comments on our approach, we’d love to hear from you at

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