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Olympics point to new ways of dealing with ‘drastic plastic’ say industry sources, as the EU calls for ramped up waste recycling targets and better infrastructure.

The London 2012 Olympics point to new ways of dealing with ‘drastic plastic’ say industry sources, as the EU calls for ramped up waste recycling targets and better infrastructure.

The European Commission revealed last week the results of the so-called ‘green paper’ public consultation on plastic waste, launched in March. The European Parliament’s official opinion is expected this week.
The respondents – 60% industry, 19% NGO and 14 environment ministries – called for a ‘greening’ of plastics, with landfill bans, ‘real’ lifecycle costs and better funding for recycling infrastructure to reduce its environmental footprint.

The European environment commissioner, Janez Potočnik, referred to the material as “drastic plastic” due to concerns over waste, particularly in the world’s oceans, during a speech to unveil the green paper’s results.

But for industry, the experience of the London 2012 Olympics suggests that plastics can still play a big role in a greener economy. More than a year after the event, many of the games’ temporary structures have found new uses.

“The tribune for the London 2012 swimming arena now could be garden hoses,” said Jean-Pol Verlaine, technical developer at Solvin, the PVC wing of Solvay Plastics.
The Olympics’ organisers had decided to construct parts of some of the major venues from lightweight, removable Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic rather than leave vast unusable structures within the already-squeezed UK capital.

The Aquatics Centre, designed by British architect Zahia Hadid, contained 15,000 PVC temporary chairs and 8000 square metres of external PVC wrap.
That the organisers used PVC as a way of restricting the games’ environmental impact may seem at odds with the received wisdom on plastics. The British government had originally banned the use of PVC during the Olympics as part of a drive to make them the “greenest ever”, only to U-turn in the run-up to the event.

“As we have done in the past with materials such as timber and concrete, we want to use the opportunity of hosting the London 2012 Games to work with industry to set new standards. In this case this may help move the industry towards more sustainable manufacture, use and disposal of PVC fabrics,” said Dan Epstein, head of sustainable development for the London Olympic Delivery Authority.
The European Commission revealed last week the results of the so-called ‘green paper’ public consultation on plastic waste, launched in March. The European Parliament’s official opinion is expected this week.
The respondents – 60% industry, 19% NGO and 14 environment ministries – called for a ‘greening’ of plastics, with landfill bans, ‘real’ lifecycle costs and better funding for recycling infrastructure to reduce its environmental footprint.

The European environment commissioner, Janez Potočnik, referred to the material as “drastic plastic” due to concerns over waste, particularly in the world’s oceans, during a speech to unveil the green paper’s results.

But for industry, the experience of the London 2012 Olympics suggests that plastics can still play a big role in a greener economy. More than a year after the event, many of the games’ temporary structures have found new uses.

“The tribune for the London 2012 swimming arena now could be garden hoses,” said Jean-Pol Verlaine, technical developer at Solvin, the PVC wing of Solvay Plastics.
The Olympics’ organisers had decided to construct parts of some of the major venues from lightweight, removable Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic rather than leave vast unusable structures within the already-squeezed UK capital.

The Aquatics Centre, designed by British architect Zahia Hadid, contained 15,000 PVC temporary chairs and 8000 square metres of external PVC wrap.
That the organisers used PVC as a way of restricting the games’ environmental impact may seem at odds with the received wisdom on plastics. The British government had originally banned the use of PVC during the Olympics as part of a drive to make them the “greenest ever”, only to U-turn in the run-up to the event.

“As we have done in the past with materials such as timber and concrete, we want to use the opportunity of hosting the London 2012 Games to work with industry to set new standards. In this case this may help move the industry towards more sustainable manufacture, use and disposal of PVC fabrics,” said Dan Epstein, head of sustainable development for the London Olympic Delivery Authority.

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