Spectators of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris will be watching the aquatic events from seats made of plastic collected in recycling bins from around the area.
In fact, 80% of the 100 metric tons of plastic needed to make the seats came from a single neighborhood—which is also where it’s being processed into new material by a firm called Le Pavé.
“It’s collected in Seine-Saint-Denis, shredded in Seine-Saint-Denis, processed in Seine-Saint-Denis, all for a swimming pool that’s still in the area,” Augustin Jaclin, co-founder of Lemon Tri, the company which collects the recycling, told Euro News.
Numerous tests have been carried out on the chairs, which include UV resistance, fire resistance, and toxicity, but also mechanical resistance tests to see how well they remain anchored to the floor under persistent attempts to rip them off of it—perhaps by a drunken angry spectator.
Marius Hamelot, co-founder of Le Pavé, said that in the lead-up to the Olympics, manufacturers have been encountering problems getting a hold of new plastics, so they switched to using waste streams. One rich vein in particular was soda bottle tops, of which 5 million were shredded by various companies looking to produce infrastructure like seating for the games.
“It’s a huge communication tool,” says Augustin. “When we tell children to come and put your bottles in the bins, tomorrow they’ll be in the seats of the Olympic swimming pool, it raises awareness [of waste recycling].”
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