28 July 2016

Rio reveals sustainable Olympic medals

Rio 2016 and the Brazilian Mint have shown their commitment to the environment by using sustainable resources in the Olympic Games’ medals.

The Olympic Charter states that “The IOC’s role is…to encourage and support a responsible concern for environmental issues, to promote sustainable development in sport and to require that the Olympic Games are held accordingly.”

This has been an increasingly important theme since the beginning of the 21st century and is a key concept in the Olympic Agenda 2020 initiative.

In line with these values, the Brazilian Mint has produced all gold, silver and bronze medals using only precious metals that have been recycled or extracted according to strict sustainability criteria.

The gold in the medals is extracted without the use of mercury and the chosen mining operation went under a number of working conditions inspections before operations began.

The silver and bronze medals consist of 30 per cent recycled material – the silver largely from X-ray plates, car parts and mirror surfaces, and the bronze from discarded materials at the Mint itself.

The ribbons used to hang the medals around athletes’ necks contain plastic from recycled plastic bottles and medals are placed in cases made from FSC certified sustainable wood sources.

All medals also feature a design aimed to celebrate the relationship between the strengths of Olympic heroes and the forces of nature.

Whilst one side of the medal bears the image of Nike, Greek Goddess of victory, with the Panathinaiko Stadium and the Acropolis in the background, the other side features laurel leaves – an ancient Greek symbol of victory and representation of nature.

Other sustainable measures include the creation of podiums out of organic materials, which have been designed to be reused as furniture after the Games.

Marcos Pereira, the superintendent for environmental and quality control at the mint, has claimed that the Rio 2016 medals will be the most sustainable prizes ever awarded at the Olympics.

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