Sustainability has been a key theme throughout the organising of the Games to ensure that one of the biggest legacies is also the cleanest.
"To guarantee the delivery of games with a reduced carbon footprint is one of the main points of our sustainability strategy,” says Tânia Braga, Sustainability, Accessibility and Legacy Manager for Rio 2016. "More importantly, we take this opportunity to engage strategic sectors in Brazil and Latin America around a more sustainable way to produce and operate.”
Earlier this year, the Organising Committee received the ISO 20121 international standard certificate to recognise meeting the sustainability criteria for events organisation.
“We went through a very thorough external audit which certified that we are serious about sustainability and assuming good management practices,” said Carlos Nuzman, Rio 2016 president. "This will be a legacy for the events sector. What we have done here is unprecedented in Brazil.”
One of the ways Rio 2016 has reduced the environmental impact of the Games was to offer sustainably sourced meat and offer vegetarian options in the dining hall. The organising committee has also reduced the volume of material, energy and even workforce needed to put on the Olympics.
"We did an edition of the Games with fewer vehicles, generators, trucks and so on,” Braga adds. “The meals have vegetarian options so we can maybe reduce the consumption of red meat. These are small measures that have generated a very positive impact.”
In the run-up to Rio 2016, the organising committee and its partners took part in a seminar at the city’s new Museum of Tomorrow to discuss the relationship between the Olympics and climate change. The event also marked the launch of a campaign to limit the increase in global temperature by 1.5C.
In the meantime, Rio 2016 has teamed up with local cooperatives of recycling pickers, who sort any waste that can be recycled during the Olympics and Paralympics. The initiative involved an investment of R$3 million, employing 280 professionals who will sort an estimated 3,500 tonnes of rubbish to be recycled. They will work at three Olympic sites: Deodoro, the Maracanã and the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca.
The recycling will then be taken to the Ecco Ponto Brasil cooperative to be compacted and sold to recycling companies. The profit will be divided by the three networks of recycling pickers and their members.
"It gives value to our sector, a moment of great happiness for us,” says Claudete Costa, collector and president of Ecco Ponto Brasil. “We battle hard and always dreamed to live the daily life alongside such a great event like the Games. We will do everything to leave a positive legacy.”