Plastics Aiming for Gold at Rio 2016

Without the endless applications plastics offer to the games from artificial turf, sporting attire, sport equipment, to the venues the Rio 2016 Olympic Games would not be possible.  

  • Artificial Turf meets Hockey Pitch Demands
    The world’s finest hockey players are competing in the Rio 2016 Olympics that feature the latest turf technology on the hockey pitches. Deodoro Olympic park is now equipped with a higher-performing, more reliable and faster artificial turf that enhances durability for the busy competition schedule.

    This year’s synthetic turf is created in a complex process where synthetic plastic fibres undergo a tufting process to produce a strong turf bind. Plastics provide stability, durability and shock absorption for the benefit of the players and the game. Compared to natural grass, artificial turf ensures playing conditions regardless of the weather and has the ability to retain its characteristics from game to game.

    Artificial turf also offers colourability and design for the playing surface. London 2012 Olympics became the first hockey competition in history to be played on a blue and pink turf and this trend carrying over to this year’s games. The blue turf enables players, officials, and spectators to more easily keep their eyes on the ball, with the high contrast that the turf provides against the yellow ball and white lines.

    Photo: ©Tapex


  • Plastics in the Water
    Since the 1980s, plastics are one of the main materials used in kayaks and canoes. With the help of plastics innovations a wide variety of styles, lengths and materials of a kayak or canoe are available to suit different sporting events and meet individual needs. As for the shape, plastics lend a hand in forming innovative designs enhancing its performance. Apart from having lightweight advantages, plastics also provide great rigidity needed to withstand maximum stress.

    The Whitewater Stadium for Rio 2016 incorporates plastics using high-density polyethylene blocks that are bolted together and connected to the bottom of the channel to form obstacles (artificial rocks) that constrict the flow of water, creating the whitewater featured in the canoe slalom competition.

    The plastics industry has formed closer ties to canoe sprint under the German sponsorship initiative by Team Kuntststoff (Team Plastics) formed in 1996 from the industry’s wide range implications in water sports. The team has currently competed in four Olympic Games earning a total of 45 medals.

    Photo: ©PlasticsEurope
  • Plastics to set a track record
    Optimised running shoes that weigh just a few grams yet provide the strength and suppleness that sportspersons demand as athletes power out of the running blocks can make the difference between victory and defeat. Plastics play an important role in today’s sports shoe designs. Rio 2016 showcases unique track and field shoes using 3D printing to form a custom fit. The shoes spike’s plate was also developed to align with the athlete’s stiffness preference, a balance of flexibility and pop made possible through 3D print prototyping. One shoemaker has transformed plastics bottles into recycled polyester to create low profile, super-lightweight shoes that still provide cushioning and support for leading runners.

    Some track and field kits use recycled plastic bottles to create a hybrid polyester fabric that combines performance and sustainability. This was made possible by an advance manufacturing process with a four way stretch knit system resulting in a breathable engineered mesh. The fabric enhances an athlete’s speed without adding much weight while at the same time being adaptable to the specificities of many events.

    Photo: ©PlasticsEurope
  • Olympic Venue
    The legendary Maracanã stadium is hosting the football competition along with two iconic events of the games: the opening and closing ceremonies.

    Millions of recycled plastics bottles were used to produce over 6,700 seat lining in the stadium. On average, it took over a hundred recycled plastics bottles to create one seat cover. Polypropylene compound are additionally used to construct the stadium’s seating, to create durable seats. 

     Additionally, plastics are utilised in the pipes from the draining and irrigation system under the natural grass pitch to ensure the highest playing conditions on the pitch.

    The centrepiece of the stadium is the new roof that is made of a special plastics-coated glass lightweight fabric that is durable and water repellent to protect spectators from any Brazilian weather. Spanning over 46,100 square metres; the roof’s fabric is able to transmit light to create a natural open feel during the day and at night.

    Photo: ©Dow
  • Olympic Medals and Recycled Plastics
    This year’s Olympics athletes are competing with each other to win Olympic medals that have been produced using recycled materials. The ribbons which will be used to hang the medal around the athletes’ neck are made up of 50% recycled plastic bottles.

    Photo: ©Alex Ferro/Rio 2016
  • Plastics help Mobility
    With thousands of spectators, athletes, and officials flocking to the Rio 2016 Games, a transformation of public transport in Rio de Janeiro has begun. Newly constructed metro line, bus routes, tram lines, and ferries will allow people to commute to and from the Olympic venues.  When designing innovative solutions, plastics are the material of choice for designers. Plastics provide durable, lightweight, design flexibility to face today’s complex transportation needs.

    A Rio de Janeiro intercity railways system has introduced thermoplastic sheeting to the rail transit. The transparent plastic sheeting used on the train’s passengers seats and luggage rack creates high-quality, durable rail cars, and bringing security to train passengers.

    For long distance travellers, today plastics are helping to create state of the art airplanes that offer high performance, fuel efficiency, and durability. High tech plastics help to reduce the weight of the plane while maintaining lower cabin pressure at higher altitudes ensuring passengers can fly more comfortably.

    Photo: ©PlasticsEurope
Artificial Turf meets Hockey Pitch Demands
Plastics in the Water
Plastics to set a track record
Olympic Venue
Olympic Medals and Recycled Plastics
Plastics help Mobility

Did you know ?
  • Today some oil-based plastics are biodegradable, thereby contributing to a sustainable future! (Photo:©2001-2016 BASF SE)