World Environment Day 2023: harnessing the power of sport to #BeatPlasticPollution
Plastics in all their forms – from packaging waste to microplastics – are polluting our oceans, rivers, lands and drinking water. The theme of the 50th annual World Environment Day is a reminder that businesses, organisations and governments, as well as people in their daily lives, need to take action to “beat plastic pollution”.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is committed to using the power of sport to help end plastic pollution. Here are four examples of how the Olympic Movement and the Games are playing their part in accelerating the transition to a circular economy.
1 – Walking the talk
At the IOC, we reviewed waste management policy and the materials consumed within our headquarters and at corporate events. Changes made over the last few years have seen significant reductions already, especially in single-use plastics.
So far we have:
- halved the amount of non-recyclable waste produced per employee, including plastics and other synthetic materials
- set the goal of eliminating single-use plastics where alternatives exist
- eliminated single-use plastics from our restaurants and specified reusable tableware for catering at our corporate events (for take-away meals, compostable cutlery is available)
- adopted sustainable sourcing guidelines for signage and branding (items are rented or reusable, while synthetic materials are made from recycled plastic), textiles and gifts (synthetic materials include recycled content, and packaging is reduced).
2 – Towards sustainable Games
Sustainability is a core commitment of Olympic Agenda 2020+5 – the Olympic Movement’s strategic roadmap. It includes a commitment to foster sustainable Olympic Games and to ensure that sustainability is mainstreamed throughout all aspects of their planning and delivery.
Addressing plastic pollution has not been overlooked in the planning for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. Three examples involve catering, construction and procurement policy.
- An estimated 13 million meals and snacks will be served during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The organisers are committed to a 50 per cent reduction in single-use plastics in catering compared with previous Games. Tableware will be reused; take-out catering will rely on cardboard and paper alternatives; and used plastics will be collected and recycled. Drinks will be in returnable glass bottles and from fountains.
- New construction has been minimised, with a heavy emphasis on sustainable features in venues. Seats at the Aquatics Centre and La Chapelle Arena (the venue for badminton and taekwondo) will be made entirely from post-consumption plastic recycled locally. The design of the Olympic Village also includes the use of recycled plastic.
- The same philosophy informs the wider procurement policy for the Games. Paris 2024 developed guidelines and a programme to encourage suppliers and licensees to embrace eco-design and plastic reduction.
Images: @ IOC/Adam Mork
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