Olympic Village Takes Recycling Gold

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The London 2012 games were hailed by the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games as the greenest ever, reported the BBC, and the committee plans to give the games a green legacy as well.

After the tent cities and other temporary structures are taken down, part of the area will become the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, reported Eurozone. The Olympic Village where the athletes lived will be reused to become 4,500 new homes in the lower Lea valley of east London, an area that was once blighted by decades of neglect and polluted by a trash dump, according to planning documents. In preparing the site, two million tons of soil had to be cleansed of toxins and detritus from its skid row past, such as petroleum residue, rotting organic material, metal and rubber, reported Scientific American.

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Sports have become champions of environmental stewardship in recent years. The NFL and even gas-guzzling NASCAR have made efforts to score sustainability points.

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“The sports industry is non-political,” Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council told Public Radio International. “So, if there was ever an industry that could confirm for us the non-partisan mainstream nature of environmental stewardship, the need for better environmental stewardship, the sports industry is a great spokesperson for that cause.”

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Hershkowitz noted that although the 2012 London games weren’t perfect, they had one of sporting history’s most ambitious environmental agendas.

The sustainability strategy for the games called for 25 percent of building materials to be from recycled materials, according to planning documents. All of the wood used had to be certified by either the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The building policy also called for phthalate-free PVC and avoiding the use of hydrofluorocarbons.

Even the blaze of the Olympic torch was designed to use only 15 percent of the natural gas used by its counterpart in the 2008 Beijing games.

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IMAGE:

Aerial view of the Olympic Park looking south west towards London (EG Focus, Wikimedia Commons)