In the spirit of solidarity and to highlight the contribution of sports towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations and Tokyo 2020 are working together to promote the SDGs through the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

To support one of Tokyo 2020’s projects for sustainability called “Be better, together – For the planet and people”,, the United Nations Information Centre in Tokyo (UNIC Tokyo) placed a collection box for plastic packaging waste in the United Nations University (UNU) building lobby. The “Recycled Plastic Victory Ceremony Podium Project” encourages people to contribute their household plastic packaging to be recycled and – along with ocean plastic waste – used to produce the first-ever Olympic and Paralympic Games award ceremony podiums made of plastic waste collected from the people.

Japan is the second-largest producer of plastic packaging waste per capita (see the UN Environment Programme 2018 report). The podium project aims to propose a new model for single-use plastic recycling, supporting the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular responsible consumption and production.

“I hope this project encourages people to review their lifestyles that are dependent on single-use plastics, and to take steps to live more sustainably,” says UNIC Tokyo Director Kaoru Nemoto.

Collection boxes

As one of many collection boxes throughout Japan, the box at UNU is available for two months, November and December 2019, for any visitors to donate their empty shampoo bottles, detergent containers, and other forms of household plastic packaging. The initiative is supported by Procter & Gamble, a Tokyo 2020 partner company, who has not only provided the collection boxes but will also produce the victory ceremony podiums.

Tokyo 2020 Medal Project

UNIC Tokyo also supported the “Tokyo 2020 Medal Project”, which successfully collected used small electronic devices for metal to manufacture approximately 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals. Every single medal that will be awarded during the Tokyo 2020 Games is made from recycled metals contributed by people all over Japan.

As with all large events, the management of waste produced during the Games is a huge challenge. Still, Tokyo 2020’s podium and medal projects prove that sustainability initiatives can be developed with the help of communities, starting well before the actual events, inspiring people to think and act to achieve the SDGs.