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Business

Rio Olympics teams with Dow to leave a low-carbon legacy

New materials and upgraded manufacturing to help Brazil reach its 2025 greenhouse gas goal

by Rick Mullin
August 3, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 32

Credit: Sergio Moraes/Reuters/Newscom
Olympics organizers hope the theme of sustainability gains momentum that will carry beyond the games.

As athletes from around the world bring their gold medal dreams to Rio de Janeiro this week, the host country is putting forward its own challenge goal.

Having chosen “sustainability” as a theme for this year’s games, the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee hopes to promote low-carbon technologies that will cut the 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents associated with the games by 2026. Organizers want strides made in Rio to be a catalyst for further greenhouse gas reductions throughout Brazil and other parts of Latin America.”

The committee is relying on a six-year-old partnership with Dow Chemical to achieve its target.

The U.S. firm was named the official chemical company of the Olympic Games in 2010. Acting in that capacity at the 2012 London games, Dow supplied infrastructure materials, notably an energy-efficient polyolefin elastomer to replace polyvinyl chloride.

Dow and Olympics organizers launched a program to mitigate the carbon footprint associated with the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics, and they hope to expand that effort beyond the games this year to assist Brazil in meeting its goal, stated at last year’s Paris climate talks, of reducing greenhouse emissions by 37% from 2005 levels by 2025.

“We realized there was an opportunity in Rio to help with mitigation efforts by creating what the Olympic Games are about—a legacy,” says Nicoletta Piccolrovazzi, technology director for Olympic and sports solutions at Dow.

Among the technologies being introduced at the Rio Olympics are microfoam flexible packaging, bonding materials for lightweight vehicles, and waterborne road marking paints. Piccolrovazzi says Dow has been working with customers in Brazil on manufacturing improvements that lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Delivery of games with a minimal carbon footprint is a big part of Brazil’s sustainability strategy, says Tania Braga, head of sustainability and accessibility for the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee. “Most importantly,” she adds, “we were able to create momentum by engaging key industries in Brazil and in Latin America towards a more sustainable way to operate.”

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Comments
Spencer Ho (August 4, 2016 6:32 PM)
I have to wonder: are these sustainable materials being used in all of the infrastructure there, or are they simply showcasing them for good PR while the rest is made of less environmentally friendly materials?
Colin Toogood (August 6, 2016 7:46 AM)
Hello Rick,

sustainability is much more than the PR bluster of a multinational company's statements regarding carbon emissions and it is necessary to look at said company's operations as a whole.

In the case of Dow Chemical, I wonder if you might go back to Mr.Piccolrovazzi and ask him to make a statement on Dow's position with regard to the legacy of the Bhopal Disaster.

Perhaps he'd like to comment specifically on how Dow feels that shielding its 100% owned subsidiary, the Union Carbide Corporation, from the outstanding Bhopal criminal case fits with its sustainability goals as the 'Official Carbon Partner' of the Olympic Games?

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