All eyes are on Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The environmental impacts of hosting the Olympics can be staggering, from the use of materials for building stadiums and pavilions to the daily consumption of food and use of paper products by spectators and athletes. Recognizing the environmental impact of the hosting the games, the organizing committee established a sustainability management plan to address these critical issues. We are proud that the Rainforest Alliance is playing a role in a few of the ways sustainability has been incorporated into the Games
In constructing the venues for the games, environmental certifications such as LEED® certification and Forest Stewardship Council® certification (FSC®) were sought. The Sustainable Supply Chain Guide requires that all timber used in the permanent or temporary forest-based constructions for the games must be legally and responsibly sourced through a Forest Management and Chain-of-Custody certification, such as FSC, the Brazilian Programme of Forest Certification or a similar program. This includes the eight basketball courts for both men and women’s Olympic teams, which have FSC certified floors made by Connor Sports, a Michigan based company that for 20 years has been certified to FSC standards by the Rainforest Alliance. The floors are made from a special species of maple grown in Michigan that provides flexibility and strength.
Sustainability in the food service also takes center stage at the Games. A Sustainable Food Vision was created to ensure that the millions of meals produced during the Game are sustainably sourced to “promote social well-being, animal welfare and land management practices that protect Brazilian forests and ecosystems.” The plan recognizes “gold-medal” environmentally conscious sourcing of products certified to environmental and social standards, and the Rainforest Alliance/SAN (Sustainable Agricultural Network) Certification is included as an “aspirational” certification for procurement of many food products including beef, milk and dairy products, acai and Brazil nuts and other non-timber forest products. As one example, all McDonald’s coffee served in the Olympic restaurant is Rainforest Alliance Certified™ (roasted by leading Brazilian coffee company Café do Centro) and the hot cups carry the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal.
The plan’s emphasis on sourcing from Brazilian producers also creates the opportunity to highlight the local diversity, to reduce environmental impacts of transportation and to provide financial support to local farmers.
The hard-won medals cherished by winning athletes are packaged in wood presentation cases that meet sustainability standards, accompanied by certificates printed on FSC certified paper. Behind the scenes delivering these products is the Casa da Moeda do Brasil (Mint of Brazil), which achieved FSC Chain of Custody Certification through the Rainforest Alliance local partner in Brazil, Imaflora. Imaflora audited and approved FSC certification of the Mint of Brazil for the manufacture of medal packaging, diplomas and certificates for the games. “It is an important message communicated by this innovative achievement of the Mint of Brazil: the importance of forest conservation, which comes from good management of natural resources,” says Leonardo Sobral, forest certification manager Imaflora.
While the world’s eyes are on the medal-winning athletes, the Rainforest Alliance and our partners will continue to watch – and work – behind the scenes to help keep the games as sustainable as they are exciting.