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Sustainability key at Paralympics too


As the best-attended Paralympic Games in history gets underway, I’ve been watching keenly to see how the transition between Olympics and Paralympics would be achieved according to ‘One Planet 2012’ sustainable principles. The Games always has a huge amount of what event experts call ‘overlay’ – banners, signs, uniforms, promotional materials and so on. In the past it’s tended to end up in the skip at the end of the Olympics and a whole new set wheeled out for the Paras. London 2012 has done things differently. Here’s LOCOG’s David Stubbs again to tell us more about the sustainable changeover:

David Stubbs, head of sustainability for LOCOG

“I have in my hand a couple of small pieces of material, just 35g in weight. By means of a few strategically placed bits of Velcro I can attach these to the front and back of my Olympic Games Maker jacket, and hey presto! It’s now a Paralympic Games Maker jacket.

That may seem very simple and obvious – and it is. But in fact it’s revolutionary, and demonstrates one of the many innovative, sustainable and cost-effective elements of the London 2012 story.

Way back at the beginning, in the days of the bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we made a strong commitment to do both Games in an integrated way. Not only did we feel this was the right thing to do from an inclusivity point of view, it also made sense in terms of efficiency and sustainability.

This has been reflected in the way the London 2012 Organising Committee has been set up – no separate Paralympics organising department, just a Director of Paralympic Integration whose job title says it all.

Our branding and the ‘look’ of the Games have been developed as one unified concept, meaning that the only changeover required is swapping out the Olympic rings for the Paralympic ‘agitos’ logo. This massively cuts down on waste and makes for much smoother transition between the two Games.

We’ve avoided waste in other ways too. By planning for the Paralympics from the outset, our Olympic venues were already built to high accessibility standards. That means minimal conversion. Even the opening and closing ceremonies have achieved efficiencies through sharing resources and reusing or repurposing props and materials from the Olympic to the Paralympic ceremonies. Again, that might seem obvious – but London is the first Games to have one production company set up to orchestrate all four ceremonies.

The biggest waste of all is building venues you don’t need or can’t use afterwards. So London 2012 is striking for being the Games with the highest proportion of temporary venues. To make this work has meant a complete reappraisal on the design of venues and the types of materials required.

But it hasn’t impacted on quality of experience. The Olympic Games bore testimony to that – people remember the Games for the quality of service, from the efficient public transport to the soldiers on the front door and the diverse catering options. It was about the atmosphere created by the crowds and the volunteers. The natural landscaping of the parklands. And of course the performance of the athletes and the stunning ceremonies.

All that and a constant effort to cut out waste. It’s the right thing to do – it saves money, and you still get an excellent experience.

So back to the jacket. Instead of thousands of completely new jackets for all those working on both Games, we achieved the transition with 35 grammes of material per person – ingenious!”

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