Tokyo 2020 medals to be made of e-waste

All gold, silver and bronze medals to be awarded at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games will be made of metal extracted from e-waste.

Tokyo’s 2020 organising committee launched a nationwide collection of discarded and obsolete electronic devices – including smartphones, digital cameras, handheld games and laptops – in April 2017 with the aim of supplying recycled precious metals for manufacturing athletes’ medals.

On Friday, the games’ organisers announced that the collection is now expected to reach its goals and the metals required to manufacture all Olympic and Paralympic medals for the upcoming summer games can be extracted from the devices already donated.

The collection enjoyed high levels of support from the public and companies across Japan. By October last year, some 47,488 tons of discarded devices had been collected by municipal authorities across Japan and over 5 million used mobile phones were handed in to a local network provider.

The targeted amount of bronze – some 2,700 kilograms – was already extracted from these by June of last year. By October 2018, 28.4 kilograms of gold (93.7 per cent of the targeted 30.3 kilograms) and 3,500 kg of silver (85.4 per cent of the targeted 4,100 kilograms) had been sourced from the donated devices.

The designs will be unveiled this summer.

Image credit: Marco Verch via Flickr

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