From Beds to the Podium: Recycling at the 2020 Olympics

From Beds to the Podium: Recycling at the 2020 Olympics

Olympic and Paralympic officials in Tokyo are scoring a point for sustainability in the design of athletes’ accommodations for the summer Games this July and August. Specifically, the bedframes that the competitors will be sleeping on between matches, races, or bouts in the Athletes Village will be made of a sturdy but recyclable cardboard.
As anyone who has ever tried to collapse a shipping box to go in the blue bin knows, corrugated cardboard can be flimsy on its sides, but tenaciously durable along its folded edges. The Tokyo bedframes are constructed out of several folded modules that seem to take advantage of that fact. (Takashi Kitajima, general manager of the Athletes Village, has stated that the cardboard bedframes are stronger than wood.) The organizers envision total recyclability of the bedframes after the Olympics and Paralympics into a variety of paper products. Additionally, the plastic-based mattresses will be fully recycled into plastic items.
“‘The organizing committee was thinking about recyclable items, and the bed was one of the ideas,’ Kitajima explained, crediting local Olympic sponsor Airweave Inc. for the execution.

Organizers say this is the first time that the beds and bedding in the Athletes Village have been made of renewable materials.

The Athletes Village being built alongside Tokyo Bay will comprise 18,000 beds for the Olympics and be composed of 21 apartment towers. Even more building construction is being planned in the next several years.

Real estate ads say the units will be sold off afterward, or rented, with sale prices starting from about 54 million yen—or about $500,000—and soaring to three or four times that much.”

Japan in a very recycling-conscious society; trust them to come up with such a staggering plan, and follow through with it! They are also a practical culture and assure athletes their recyclable beds are guaranteed to support a sleeping weight of 200kg — though they can’t guarantee they’ll hold up under a celebratory gold-medal bed-jumping party, or any other particularly vigorous, um, sport that athletes at high-level competitions are notorious for. Regardless, we at DFC wish all Olympic and Paralympic competitors the absolute best and look forward to watching their (well-rested!) efforts this summer.