The Sustainable Future at the 2020 Olympics
Sustainable development has become a major priority for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in recent years, and with this year’s games focused on sustainability, organizers have pledged to “deliver sustainable games and showcase solution models for the challenges faced by the people of Japan and those around the world to achieve global sustainability”.
In preparation for this, 150% of carbon credits were purchased as a requirement to offset the games’ greenhouse gas emissions, which is said to make this year’s games “the first-ever carbon negative Olympics”.
Here are all the other ways the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are meeting their goals on sustainability, and what we can learn from this:
Prior to the Olympics, host cities are known to build brand new venues in anticipation of the games.
However, this year’s host, Tokyo, has chosen to use 25 existing venues that were already built when the city last hosted the Olympics in 1964. From this step, the country’s organizers have not only reduced the carbon waste that would have come from building new venues, but also enhance their preexisting landmarks surrounding the Olympic and Paralympic games.
According to the event organizers, 99% of all goods procured for the games follow the 3R’s (Reduced, Reused, Recycled). Some of the inclusions of the 3R materials:
- The timber used to build the athlete’s Olympic Village Plaza, which is projected to be returned to the local communities after the Olympic games to be reused.
- The 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals that are reported to have been casted from salvaged metals from nearly 79,000 tons of recycled smartphones and other electronics donated by the Japanese public.
- The Olympic torch which is produced from aluminum waste from the temporary housings built from the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
Most notably, the venues, programs, and the cauldron for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have been retrofitted to have renewable sources such as solar arrays from Fukushima and wood biomass – made from construction waste and tree clippings, to power this year’s games.
Additionally, this year’s games have also employed a carbon offsetting program to cover all direct and indirect emissions, including transport and construction. Under this carbon cap-and-trade program, the carbon credits acquired will offset around 720,000 tons of projected CO2 emissions in the city over the course of the Olympic event.
So what can we learn from this Olympic event?
The push for sustainable solutions for this year’s games have shown that it is possible to fuel our economy and our own homes using alternative renewable sources such as recycled wood and clean solar energy–all we have to do is to take that Olympic leap towards a more sustainable future.