Russian balloons fill the air at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Photo Credit: Tatyana Zenkovich / EPA /February 7, 2014

Russian balloons fill the air at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Photo Credit: Tatyana Zenkovich / EPA /February 7, 2014

With all of the media buzz surrounding the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, it’s easy to forget about all the good things that have come from the winter games. From electronics flubs to territorial packs of stray dogs to wayward bathroom doors and tap water that looks more like apple juice, it’s important to recognize the good things that Sochi has done: like utilizing a zero waste principle for the winter games.

Recycling containers take the place of regular trash cans at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Recycling containers take the place of regular trash cans at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

What’s that mean, exactly? It means that nearly all of the waste that will be generated before, during or after the 2014 Winter Olympic Games will be reusable or handled in an environmentally friendly way. According to Sochi2014, the main task at hand will be to minimize the amount of waste that would end up in landfills.

How are they doing this? Primarily via recycling or using recyclable materials. For example, a freight yard in Imeretinskaya that was constructed for the Games processed and re-used a whopping 12,000 tons of concrete, while a high efficiency sewage treatment plant was launched back in 2011 to assure that ideal sanitation standards could be achieved even with higher demand. Even more, Sochi re-purposed an old incinerator in the Khostinsky District into a recycling complex than can handle 200,000 tons of waste annually. Perhaps even more impressive is the waste collection system that was put into place around the bypass road built just for the Olympics, which is heavily traveled due to the events. This collection system prevents polluted water and other contaminants that would roll off the roadway from reaching local waterways. All in all, it’s pretty impressive—and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

As you might expect, all waste receptacles at the Olympics will be geared for recycling of the municipal solid waste that is tossed into them. There are separate collections for plastic bottles and other waste products so that they can be easily recycled.

With all of the bad publicity Sochi seems to be receiving surrounding the Olympics, one would be hard pressed to say that the measures put in place by Sochi officials isn’t impressive. We tip our hats for anyone going the extra mile for the good of the planet, so hats off to you, Sochi.