While we weren’t thrilled to hear that the 2012 London Olympics would be using PVC to build many of their temporary structures, the good news is that the materials will be recycled for another big sporting event afterwards. Over 142,000 sq. m. of PVC fabric was incorporated into the construction of the park and external Olympic venues, including Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre, Hopkins Architects’ Velodrome, the Populous-designed Olympics Stadium and the Royal Artillery Barracks, but there is hope on the horizon because the developers of the Olympics have promised to do their part by recycling the vinyl after the games in new structures for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
A number of the 2012 Olympic venues were built using polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl). To be fair, the material is durable, flexible, lightweight, inexpensive and customizable, but on the other hand, it doesn’t degrade, it’s hard to recycle, it produces toxic emissions and disrupts hormones. Because of its contentious nature, the London Olympic committee issued a policy back in 2009 to outline the use of vinyl at the venues. That policy dictated that any material used must include at least 30% recycled content, be manufactured in accordance with the ECVM Industry Charter, meet standards for effluent discharges and vent gases, and must not contain lead, mercury or cadmium stabilizers, amongst other things.
In addition, once the games conclude all temporary vinyl structures will be dismantled and the vinyl will be recycled. The recycling itself is slated to be done in the most sustainable way possible and involves a system of crushing, selective dissolving, fibre separation, PVC precipitation and solvent regeneration, all of which ensure that the product is high-quality recycled PVC that can be used again in a variety of ways with minimum negative impact on the environment. The recycled vinyl from the London 2012 Olympic Games venues will then be used for the football stadiums currently being designed and constructed for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. While we weren’t thrilled about the number of PVC structures going up for the Olympics, at least they’re working to recycle them into a new venue for the next major sporting event.
Images ©London 2012