In June 2022, London entertainment venue The O2, which is owned and operated by AEG Europe, announced a series of new sustainability measures.
Coinciding with the venue’s 15th anniversary and Billie Eilish bringing her Happier Than Ever tour to the venue, alongside a cross-campus climate festival, Overheated, The O2 implemented various changes within the arena. These included reducing single-use plastic, promoting a plant-based menu, and enabling customers to make more informed and responsible choices.
Within The O2 arena, together with the venue’s catering partner Levy UK + Ireland, the venue committed to going 100% vegan on all available food items for the six Billie Eilish shows. The commitment included a fully vegan food offering available on both the concourses and suite level, and the removal of non-vegan food items from the menus. The venue said that following Eilish’s shows, it planned to continue with a plant-forward philosophy, which would include the permanent removal of concession-stand beef burgers from the menu.
The O2 arena said that through its partnership with Levy, it was also working with Klimato to calculate, communicate and report the climate impact of the food available for fans to purchase, to enable them to make conscious choices.
This commitment to go fully plant-based for Eilish’s shows at The O2 Arena has also been supported by The O2’s venue partners, with drinks sold in the arena by Budweiser Brewing Group and Champagne Lanson already offering vegan products, and Nestlé providing vegan sweets and alternative vegan milks at the Nescafé Azera Coffee Shop.
Looking ahead, Levy has committed to reaching net zero at The O2 arena by 2025. This commitment will see Levy continue to support The O2 arena in using technology to track its environmental performance, and reduce waste through Levy’s ‘reduce, re-use and review’ policy. Achieving net zero for food and beverage at The O2 by 2025 will be an integral part of the venue’s overall strategy to hit net zero. The O2 and AEG Europe are working with A Greener Festival on establishing an accurate scientific baseline for scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, before publishing its full plan for net zero later this year.
Another announced measure was a plan to install several water dispensers throughout The O2 arena for fans, reducing the need for plastic water bottles. Visitors to the arena will be encouraged to bring soft, reusable water bottles that will need to be emptied prior to entry and fully collapsible.
The O2 is also taking strides to reduce the amount of single-use plastic used in the arena, having committed to recyclable paper cups in all areas of the arena, including backstage. The venue has also removed all plastic bags from merchandise units and implemented fabric wristbands made from 100% recycled PET plastic for standing arena attendees for the first time.
With more than nine million visitors each year, and sustainability as a pillar of the venue’s Good Vibes All Round initiative, a platform for sharing The O2’s actions to fans, bands and brands, the venue said it is continuously looking for ways to limit its impact on the environment.
The O2’s sustainability initiatives in recent years have included the implementation of digital ticketing through AXS Mobile ID, eliminating more than one million paper tickets each year. The O2 is also notable for trialling and generating power from vertical-axis wind turbines developed by British start-up Alpha 311.
In conjunction with AEG Sustainability’s broader environmental programmes, The O2 also has an advanced waste compound, green cleaning programme, ongoing energy reduction projects and on-site wormery and aerobic biodigestor, contributing to less than 1% of waste going to landfill per year.
The venue has surpassed its waste, water and greenhouse gas emissions targets every year since 2010. It said it has been procuring green electricity for the entire site since 2018 and this has had an impact on reducing GHG emissions by around 6,000 metric tons each year.
The O2 is also easily accessible by tube, bus, boat or cable car, with fans encouraged to travel to the venue by public transport where possible.