Every four years the largest gathering of athletes, spectators and media converge to witness the greatest athletes on the planet compete in the Summer Olympiad. It’s difficult for most of us to grasp the skill, strength, endurance, devotion and sacrifice that each Olympian demonstrates, but at the London 2012 Olympic Games the athletes are not the only ones performing impressive feats. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) embarked on an equally impressive mission: to make the London 2012 Summer Games the most sustainable Olympic Games to date. Central to this mission is the goal of achieving Zero Waste.
London 2012 is the first summer Games to aim to send zero waste directly to the landfill. With almost 15,000 athletes, 11 million ticket-holders and hundreds of thousands of reporters and media exploring the city and attending Olympic venues, recognizing this goal is a gargantuan task. During the planning process, LOGOC employed a waste hierarchy to govern disposal of materials. They avoided the lowest ranking, “disposable,” and aimed for materials they could reuse or recycle. “Preventing/Avoiding” ranked at the top of the hierarchy.
As a result of this structure, not a single item of trash from the Olympic park will go directly into a landfill; instead, every item of trash will be used as a renewable or recyclable resource. This policy has governed all aspects of planning of the including construction of Olympic Stadium, where 90% of waste generated was diverted from landfills via recycling or reuse.