The world’s best athletes will receive their gold medals at the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer while standing on trash. Recycled food containers, to be exact. The silver-colored Olympic podiums, currently being raised across France, were made in a small factory on the outskirts of Paris by a start-up called Le Pavé using 100 percent recycled plastic. It’s a first for any Olympic Games.

“There is an overabundance of plastic that is harming the environment, but which also has proven economic potential if it can be repurposed,” said Marius Hamelot, 29, a co-founder of Le Pavé, as he darted around his plant, a converted former steel foundry.

That’s not all: Le Pavé also made 11,000 bleacher seats for two nearby sports arenas that were built for the Games — all manufactured from used shampoo bottles and millions of multicolored bottle caps. Just a few years ago, the company had only three employees. But an unexpected call from Olympic organizers led to a beefy contract, and the company has expanded to a staff of 34 and opened two factories. In the process, it has become a poster child for the Paris Olympic committee, which has pledged to make these Olympic Games the greenest in history.

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Author: Liz Alderman, The New York Times
Photo by Alex wolf mx: