31 Aug 2018 Press release Oceans & seas

Xiamen Marathon runs towards plastic-free future with #CleanSeas

  • The Xiamen Marathon, seeing 35,000 runners every year, is implementing a plastic plan that will reduce plastic waste by 50 percent.
  • It is the first international marathon in the world to officially join forces with UN Environment and join the Clean Seas Campaign.
  • The list of measures against pollution includes replacing the nearly 1 million single-use plastic cups with biodegradable cups made from maize straw.

31 August 2018 – Single-use plastic bottles and disposable cups will officially be a thing of the past for the 30,000 runners in the Xiamen marathon, as the massive sports event will go single-use plastic free and join UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign this January.

In an effort to reduce the plastic pollution generated each year by the Xiamen marathon, organizers have adopted an impressive list of measures and eco-alternatives that will reduce plastic waste by 50% percent.

Besides the reducing use of single-use plastic bottles and replacing the nearly one million single-use cups with biodegradable cups made from maize straw, the marathon will also be fully paper-free, with all announcements going digital and saving approximate 10,000 kg paper and 200 kg solid dyes over the course of the event.

 “The Xiamen Municipal Government is dedicated to environment protection and sustainable development.” Deputy Secretary-General of Xiamen Municipal Government said. “We are excited to work with UN Environment and the #CleanSeas campaign on the ground. It will, I believe, be an groundbreaking move to educate athletes and fans on what they can do to help beat plastic pollution.”                                                                                      

The marathon organizers are taking a creative approach at going single-use plastic-free, looking beyond the elimination of water bottles to make an impact. For example, between the more than 300 marathons running in China every year, runners discarded almost 300 placards used to record running times. This year, Xiamen will recycle their placards. They will also fashion their promotional material from biodegradable material, and reduce single-use plastic in any pack

“Big sporting events are a celebration of human health, so it makes perfect sense to do as much as possible to cut their pollution footprint,” Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said. “More big events around the world need to follow this example. By cutting their needless waste, they will also show that beating our throwaway plastic addiction can be done!”

 “As an energetic race promoting a healthy lifestyle, the Xiamen Marathon has always advocated the importance to include green initiatives. Joining the UN Environment #Cleanseas campaign is a great opportunity for us to upgrade the marathong to a new level by fulfilling our commitment to environment protection and sustainable development. Fur us, it is just the beginning of a grand adventure.” Mr. Wu Mingxian said, Director of Xiamen Marathon Organizing Committee.

By adopting rigorous and far-reaching methods to keep the evens pollution-free, the Xiamen marathon is the first marathon around the world that officially joins UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, a global compact for combatting marine litter with commitments from 51 nations and a growing number of business and organizations, covering 62% of the world’s coastlines.


About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the global environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world. 

About Clean Seas
UN Environment launched #CleanSeas in February 2017, with the aim of engaging governments, the general public, civil society and the private sector in the fight against marine plastic litter.
By connecting individuals, civil society groups, industry and governments, UN Environment aims to transform habits, practices, standards and policies around the globe to dramatically reduce marine litter and the harm it causes.

 more information, please contact:

Keith Weller, Head of News and Media, keith.weller[at]un.org