Those who reign victorious at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will receive their medals atop podiums made from recycled plastic waste, the games’ planners said Tuesday.
Around 45 tonnes of recycled plastic will be needed to build 100 podiums. The plastic waste will be collected from the sea during marine clean-ups and donated by citizens at collection drops located at thousands of AEON retail centers across the country.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto says he hopes the initiative will raise awareness about the importance of sustainability.
"By sending that message to both Japan and the rest of the world, we think this project will have great significance," he told reporters, according to Channel News Asia.
Once collected, the plastic will then be sent to Procter & Gamble — a global consumer goods company and Tokyo Olympic partner — to be manufactured into podiums via “advanced recycling technology.” Following the games, the podiums will be used for educational purposes and donated to schools or athletic organizations.
This will be the first time in Olympic history that podiums will be made from recycled plastic.
The podium initiative is the latest in the organizing committee’s sustainability drive. In March, it was revealed all medals would be made from recycled electronic waste — which typically contains small amounts of gold, silver, and copper.
Japanese athletes will also wear an official uniform made partially from recycled clothes and plastic bottles.
Games organizers have also pledged to use 100% renewable power and offset all unavoidable CO2 emissions.
Japan remains the second-largest generator, behind the United States, of plastic packaging waste on a per-capita basis — generating 9.4 million tonnes of plastic waste per year.
Despite this, the nation failed to sign the G7 plastic ocean charter in 2018, which sees signatories volunteer to protect the environment by reducing their overall plastic footprint.
While the country has vowed to ban free plastic bags and cut plastic waste by 25% before 2030, the 2020 Tokyo committee hopes the games will work to accelerate additional nationwide climate policies and prove global events can succeed while ensuring sustainable practises.
Disclosure: Procter & Gamble is a partner of Global Citizen.