Wednesday, September 03, 2008

London Olympics - reuse and recycle?

London Olympic 2012, UK

For the 2008 Beijing Olympics China built twelve permanent and eight temporary venues and refurbished eleven others at a cost on $1.9 billion according to the city government. China plans to reuse its venues. Du Wei Vice President of the Beijing Olympic Economy Research Association said, "The management companies will immediately open them up for public use."

A little closer to home Salvo subscriber Keith Edmonds from Oxfordshire brought a selection of stone figures to Salvo Fair 2008 which were rescued from the clearance site of the Beijing Olympics. Among the figures were Buddhas and other Buddhist related carved stone work including steles. Keith Edmonds said, "We believe they were unearthed after being buried by Revolutionary Guards in the 1950's. These were young activists who were instructed to get rid of any signs that didn't conform to communism and most statues were destroyed or buried. We heard about these figures from contacts of Ray Poole as he is a keen enthusiast of Buddhist statues."

London put sustainability at the heart of its bid for the 2012 games, framed by the concept of 'Towards a One Planet Olympics', which was derived from the work of WWF/BioRegional. Now that the 2008 Beijing Olympics have drawn to a close, we ask what will London do differently?

London 2012 intends to focus on five key areas: combating climate change; reducing waste; enhancing biodiversity; promoting inclusion and improving healthy living. To ensure the Olympic planners stick to their promises, an independent scrutiny body Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 has been set up to monitor its progress.

Dan Epstein Head of Sustainable Development & Regeneration said, "Unlike previous games, our Olympic park development is recognised as an opportunity to regenerate an area and progress with reusing and recycling materials. For example, over 90 per cent of site clearance and site demolition material was either reused or recycled. This included 20,00 tonnes of ballast, 4,000 tonnes of crushed concrete, 620 tonnes of tarmac and 180 tonnes of steel. A further 3,250 yards of track has been reused as have fourteen switch crossing units."

The ODA have recently reported that they are beating the target to reclaim 90 per cent of demolition materials for recycling or reuse. "Wherever possible we will not dump waste, we will reuse and recycle it instead. Reclaiming materials to reuse in designs of venues and parklands, recycling complete buildings to be re-assembled off site, using materials with a high recycled content, ensuring the temporary facilities are designed and fitted out so they can be taken down and reused afterwards, and as a priority, leasing equipment, such as temporary seating rather than making new."

"To date the following have been reclaimed: 80 Lampposts, 160 manhole covers and 187 gulleys, 18 square meters of clay and slate roof tiles, 2 tonnes of red bricks, 117 tonnes of york stone, 100 tonnes of cobble/granite, 41 tonnes of paving bricks and 35 tonnes of paving slabs, 1,200m of granite kerb and 4,200m of concrete kerbs. These will be stored and then used to create aesthetic and practical features for the park including paths, paving and paving inlays, benches, planters and lighting and water features," said the ODA.

A practical example of a project was at a new 12 track railway siding at Orient Way, used to park the extra trains for morning and afternoon peak hour that are not needed at other times of the day. 99 per cent of the demolition and site clearance waste from the Orient Way project was recycled or reused. In addition 3,250 yards of track was lifted and reused, which includes; 2,070 concrete railway sleepers, 558 tonnes of steel rail and 54 tonnes of iron railway castings.

Salvo has seen very few items reclaimed from the Olympic site coming up on salvoweb.com. Jason Davies from Architectural Forum, Islington said, "When I visited the Olympic site in Straftford I saw unbelievable warehouses that the workers were just driving straight through. I also enquired several times about a late Victorian red brick house on the site from which the soft red bricks, slates, floorboards, doors and tiles could have all been reclaimed, but I never heard anything back, so I would be keen to know what exactly they have reclaimed."

Janine from Ashwell Timber Recycling said, "We had been offered some doors - storage only, but other than that we have not been offered any timber from the Olympic site. However, we have supplied nearly one hundred reclaimed fenders made from greenheart, a tropical hardwood, for the new lock gates to the Prescott Channel. This is the supply route for the materials arriving via barges on the waterways. The fenders were cut from piles saved from the dismantled Rainham Power Station jetty back in 2003."

However, the ODA do not categorise what is reused and what has been recycled. When asked to comment on exact amounts of materials that has been reused or is intended for reuse the ODA and Dan Epstein failed to respond. Therefore, although London 2012 Olympic Games strategy should be applauded for being a 'sustainable' event it is impossible to know the breakdown of what exactly is being reused. Certain members of the trade have commented on the lack of materials becoming available for reclaiming from the Olympic site.


London 2012 Olypics

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