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Japan 2020 will be the circular games


Efforts are well underway to make the 2020 Olympics in Japan an exemplar of the circular economy in action.

Sustainability is being factored into every element of the planning process for Japan 2020. A sustainability plan for the Olympics and Paralympics has been published and the country’s citizens are being asked to do all they can to support it.

The population is being called on to provide the raw materials for the medals. Discarded or obsolete electronic devices are being donated and will be recycled into the gold, silver and bronze that will adorn the winning athletes.

Japan’s gymnast Kohei Uchimura, three-time Olympic gold medallist, praised the move for providing “future generations” with “an important message”.

“Computers and smart phones have become useful tools. However, I think it is ‘mottainai’ [or wasteful] to discard devices every time there is a technological advance and new models appear,” he added.

Japan is following in the footsteps of Rio last year and London 2012 in taking a circular approach.

To reduce waste at the Rio Games, for example, Bakeys edible cutlery was available, while cooking oil was recycled into  biodiesel to provide energy.

A white paper published by Harvard University and supported by the World Economic Forum further supports Japan’s ambitions and suggests how a truly sustainable Games can be delivered.

“In the case of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Circular Economy strategies can be applied to several key aspects of the Games, including: overall construction and design, transportation and accommodation, as well as food, energy and waste management,” the paper states.



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