Electronic waste is a real issue, especially in Eastern countries where consumer electronics consumption is much higher. But the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project decided to make good use of old tech under the theme of “Be better, together – for the planet and the people”. So, next year’s Olympic medals are made out of nearly 80,000 tonnes of recycled smartphones, feature phones, digital cameras, handheld gaming consoles, laptops and other unwanted electronic gizmos.
All of the electronic devices used were sourced from inside Japan, and the 80,000 tonnes of electronic waste was recycled into 5,000 medals. These medals will be used for both the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games taking place in 2020.
About six million mobile phones were donated to the project when it kicked off in April 2017. Donations came primarily from schools and electronic retail stores, as well as the Japanese public, who could place their unwanted tech in designated bins distributed around the city.
“From the procurement of the metals to the development of the medal design, the entire country of Japan was involved in the production of the medals for the Tokyo 2020 Games,” the organisers say in a statement on the Tokyo 2020 website.
The electronics were used to craft the gold, silver and bronze medals. Of the nearly 80,000 tonnes of recycled gadgets, 32kg of gold, 3,500kg of silver, and 2,200kg of bronze (copper and zinc in this case) were extracted. We’ve never wanted an Olympic medal before, but now we do. Unfortunately, though, our odds of actually ever winning one remain unchanged. Unless, of course, Super Mario Maker 2 or Paladins ever become Olympic sports.
Source: Tokyo 2020 website