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Plastic plays key role in Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

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by Vince Versace

The Canadian plastics industry will not only be proud of Canada’s athletes at the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics but also its own accomplishments in making the games possible.

Same material used in venue roof integral to hockey equipment

The Canadian plastics industry will not only be proud of Canada’s athletes at the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics but also its own accomplishments in making the games possible.

“Through all its applications and roles, the industry is quite proud, from plastics playing a role in ensuring hockey players are safe to making buildings at the games energy efficient and environmentally friendly,” said Mark Badger, president and CEO of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association.

The Olympics are a celebration of plastic’s multiple uses once you start to take a closer look, noted Badger. The beneficial role plastics typically play in construction across Canada was applied to Olympic venue construction.

“Plastics play a real role in increasing energy conservation in construction and increasing the longevity of some components in construction and (they) are virtually maintenance free,” Badger said.

The Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, which features Canada’s largest green roof, has more than three million board feet of energy-saving STYROFOAM™ extruded polystyrene foam insulation materials manufactured by Dow Chemical Canada ULC in its construction.

The plumbing system at the Olympic athlete village is made entirely of plastic pipe, noted Badger, making the system more sustainable and efficient than conventional materials.

A centerpiece event at the upcoming games will be the hunt for a gold medal by Canada’s men’s and women’s hockey squads. Canada’s national pastime relies on plastics to not only make it safer but also better, explained Badger.

Whether it is Sidney Crosby or Hayley Wickenheiser donning the Canadian uniform in pursuit of hockey glory in Vancouver, they will be wearing nearly nine kilograms of protective gear, made of plastics such as clear polycarbonate plastic face shields, high density polyethylene pads and mostly high impact-resistant helmets made of composite plastic lined with plastic foam core padding.

“The speed of hockey enabled by lightweight durable equipment is something that hits home,” said Badger. “Considering the speed and skill of the game, this lightweight but very strong plastic equipment will do a good job of keeping players from big injuries and still moving quickly on the ice.”

The glass around hockey rinks is plexiglass, the netting in the goals is a nylon mesh and goalie facemasks, whether worn by Canada’s Martin Brodeur or Russia’s Evgeni Nabokov, are constructed of kevlar.

“If you’re a goalie standing in net with a face mask made of kevlar, with a puck coming at you 100 mile-per-hour, plastics are making you safe and ensuring you still have good vision.”

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