London 2012: Chemical company Dow funds stadium wrap

A computer generated image of how the wrap will look
Image caption The wrap will go up around the stadium in early 2012

Chemical company Dow is to fund and make the fabric wrap around the Olympic Stadium in east London.

The wrap was conceived by the architects as the finishing touch to the stadium but was dropped to save £7m from the construction costs.

Dow, the world's second largest chemical manufacturer, will be allowed to advertise on the 336 panels until a month before the Games open next year.

The company is working on a plan to reuse the panels when the Games finish.

London 2012 organisers, Locog, are committed to a sustainability plan including minimising greenhouse gasses and waste and ensuring no waste is sent to landfill during the Olympics.

Dow has not put a figure to the cost of making and sponsoring the wrap, which is made from polyester and polyethylene. The wrap will encircle the venue, spanning the sides from concourse level to the top tier of seating.

Each panel is 25m high by 2.5m wide. They are being manufactured at a US plant in Seattle and will be installed around the stadium's metal skeleton early in 2012.

Dow will be able to brand the wrap with sponsorship until 26 June 2012, when its logo will be removed from the surface due to the IOC's insistence on venues being "clean" from advertising during the Games.

The wrap will be printed using UV-curable inks, rather than solvent-based ones which create a greater level of emissions in their manufacture.

Dow's UK managing director Keith Wiggins told the BBC it was "actively" working on "repurposing" the panels for after the Games and that the materials being used had a better carbon footprint than alternatives as they were lighter to make and transport.

Mr Wiggins said: "We're delighted to provide the wrap.

"For us this is a very big deal. It's the first opportunity to tell the world about what we're bringing in terms of scientific excellence and sustainability."

The stadium will host athletics as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. Funding for its outer layer was scrapped in 2010 to save public cash as part of the government's spending review.

In February, it was announced that the wrap would be reinstated and a search began for a private sponsor.

The current design, using individual strips of material, differs from the original of one 900m long curtain displaying moving images.

Rod Sheard, of Populous, which designed and built the stadium, said the wrap was one of the last parts of a four-year-old design.

"It will provide a clear and memorable identity to the stadium," he said.

"We are very pleased, as the wrap completes the enclosure of the structure and gives form to the lightweight frame that supports the elegant white roof."

Locog chair Sebastian Coe said: "The stadium will look spectacular at Games time and having the wrap is the icing on the cake.

"I'm delighted Dow as one of the newer worldwide partners of the Olympic movement will be providing it and importantly doing it in a sustainable way."

Dow is an Olympic partner for the International Olympic Committee and a sponsor committed to supporting the Games for the next 10 years.

The chemical manufacturer has had a chequered history, including making napalm and Agent Orange for the US government during the Vietnam War.

In 1999, Dow merged with the Union Carbide Corporation, whose subsidiary Union Carbide India, ran the Bhopal pesticide plant - the site of one of the world's worst industrial disasters, in which thousands of people died in the previous decade.

Mr Wiggins said Dow would be judged by what it did in future, not the "awful legacies" of the past.

"It's acknowledged the industry has made mistakes in the past. But the world without good chemistry in the future would be a poorer place," he said.

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