Sustainability at Tokyo 2020: Resource Management

by Chiara Aruffo

Resource management is one of the five main themes of the Tokyo 2020 sustainability plan ‘Be better, together – For the planet and the people’.

Resource management for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has Zero Wasting as its main objective. Through that, the organization aims at reducing the environmental impact to zero and avoiding deforestation and land devastation due to the exploitation of resources. In the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which we have already discussed here, resource management addresses the objective 12 – Responsible consumption and production.

The materials used at the Games will follow as far as possible the 3R rule: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, both in terms of procurement and disposal of materials. Recycling and re-utilization activities will involve not only participants in the Games but also local residents.

Using recycled materials for the Games’ symbols

The organizing committee has placed great emphasis on the use of recycled material, which fits in well in the context of circular economy. The main symbols of the Olympics will all be made from recycled material:

The Olympic medals made of metal recycled from small electronic devices (Credits: olympics.org)
  • the Olympic torches are made of aluminium from prefabricated housing units built after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami (the one in Fukushima, for example)
  • the torchbearers’ uniforms are made of recycled material from plastic bottles
  • the Olympic medals are made of metal recycled from small electronic devices
  • the podiums are made of plastic material recycled directly by citizens

Reducing disposable plastic

The second point is the reduction of disposable plastic, which is one of the main causes of marine pollution and represents a global danger. Food packaging will be made of paper as much as possible, as will plates and cutlery.

Reuse and recycling of materials

The ambitious target set by the organization is to achieve reuse/recycle 99% of materials used for the Games and 65% of the waste produced. As far as possible, procurement will be done through rental and leasing systems. Specific guidelines for Reuse and Recycling have been established in order to define in advance the life cycle materials and find a new use beforehand. 

Operation BATON

Another important initiative is the operation BATON – Building Athletes’ village with Timber Of the Nation, i.e. using nationally-sourced timber to build the Olympic Village. In total, 63 Japanese municipalities have participated and, once the Games are over, the timber will be reused, for example, to build benches for public parks.

Operation BATON emblems made of nationally-sourced timber (Credits: paralympics.org)

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