The task of hosting the Olympic games can be an economic benefit for the chosen country. However, in the past some towns have built new infrastructures to support the games for them to become ghost towns afterward.
The games are one of the world's most televised events and Tokyo is using the opportunity to showcase innovative ideas that promote a circular economy.
What's a circular economy...
Currently, a 'take-make-dispose' economy is strong across the world, it involves taking from the earth's precious resources and making a new product that is destined for landfill. On the other hand, a circular economy involves designing products from renewable or existing materials that last longer so they can be repaired, upgraded, reused, resold, or recycled into something new. Essentially, the same materials are used over and over again instead of being discarded.
How are they promoting circularity...
Here are some of the innovative ways the Tokyo Olympics are embracing a circular economy:
100% Recycled Medals: Metals use to make the 5000 gold, silver, and bronze medals were extracted from 6.2 million used electronic devices handed in by Japanese residents.
100% Recycled Podiums: Residents, retailers, and 113 schools donated 42.5 tonnes of plastic waste to create the podiums athletes stand on when receiving their medals.
100% Recycled Olympic Torch: Aluminium from temporary housing built after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake was used to build the Olympic torch.
Recycling: Organisers expect to reuse or recycle 99% of items or goods procured
Waste management: They also hope to reuse or recycle at least 65% of all waste
Hiring equipment: Tokyo reduced the need to manufacture goods by hiring equipment. This includes 65,000 computers, tablets, and other appliances, 19,000 office desks, chairs, and other fixtures.
Using existing facilities: 8 of the 43 Olympic venues have been built from scratch. Roughly 25 existed before the games and 10 are temporary. Many have been retrofitted with advanced building technology to reduce energy consumption. This cuts emissions and the need for resources.
Donated material: Local governments donated 40,000 pieces of timber to build the Olympic Village Plaza, when the games are finished the wood will be returned and recycled.
Cardboard beds: Single beds in the athletes village will be made from sturdy cardboard and recycled into paper products after the games.
Seabins: Tokyo will remove rubbish from its harbours using Seabins (yeah, that's right, a Sunshine Coast based invention is being used by the Tokyo Olympic Games, cool huh?!). At Go For Zero, we donate $1 from every order to a cause of your choice, The Seabin Project is one of them.
Whilst there is always more that can be done it is so heartwarming to see Tokyo embracing sustainability in their Olympic games. We are excited to see how other countries can build on Tokyo's strong efforts in future!