PVC at London Olympics Destined for Reuse Or Recycling

London’s Olympic organizers were very conscious of the legacy that the games of the 30th Olympiad would leave behind, both in terms of the emotional and cultural imprint of the event on the country, as well as the bricks-and-mortar legacy of venues purpose-built for the Olympics. Beijing’s 2008 games were truly a spectacle, with innovative and striking architecture playing a huge role, but four years on, some of the most iconic structures, including the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium have settled into disuse and disrepair.

The decision to stage shooting at a temporary venue, versus investing in existing brick-and-mortar sites so they could host an Olympic-sized competition, was not without controversy, but in any case, the resulting designs, which rely heavily on polyvinyl chloride (PVC), are being touted by the vinyl community, including the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers.

The ECVM noted that more than 142,000 sq m of PVC fabric were in the Olympic Park and external sites. A cradle-to-grave sustainable approach to the material was also taken, reflective of London’s efforts to put on the greenest games ever.

PVC used at the Olympics includes at least 30% recycled content, and is manufactured in accordance with the ECVM Industry Charter, which means it meets standards for effluent discharges and vent gases, and does not contain lead, mercury or cadmium stabilizers, among other substances.

Solvay Vinyls is helping the Olympic Games meet its sustainability commitments, according to the company, thanks to its VinyLoop recycling technology for PVC composites. Serge Ferrari, a global supplier of architectural tarpaulins and a VinyLoop partner, has delivered 80% of the PVC-coated technical textiles used by the London Olympics.

Some of the PVC-coated textiles temporary used at London 2012 venues will be re-employed in soccer stadiums currently under construction in Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Others will be converted in gym mats for schools with the remainder recycled at VinyLoop’s Ferrara plant.

Jo Carris, learning legacy ambassador of the Olympic Games, said: “The PVC policy focused attention on the use of PVC across the project and highlighted that the functional properties of PVC make it the most appropriate material in certain circumstances.”