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Tokyo’s Eco-Friendly Olympic Medals To Be Created From Recycled Smartphones
By Izza Sofia, 24 Feb 2019
In typical Olympic Games fashion, best-of-the-best athletes will be awarded a special shimmering array of gold, silver and bronze medals in Tokyo next year.
However, what is unique about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is an unprecedented initiative sweeping across Japan. The nation is painstakingly mining rare ores from small electronics for the purpose of making metals. The Medal Project was kicked off in April 2017, where municipalities were encouraged to collect e-waste for the Olympics.
Phones and other small electronic devices were collected locally while NTT Docomo—Japan’s largest mobile phone operator—also accumulated these devices in stores.
Approved contractors then dismantled these devices and smelted them into an aggregate pile of rare metals. As of October 2018, the Medal Project had grown in popularity across Japan with over 1,594 municipalities or 90% of Japan participating in the movement.
The Project has officially secured enough rare metals to produce more than 2,500 medals for both the Olympics and the Paralympics.
This amounts to approximately 66 pounds of gold, 9000 pounds of silver and 6,000 pounds of bronze alloy. Typically, medals would weigh about 500 grams or 1.1 pounds each. Unfortunately, there is little gold incorporated in the gold medal.
What is even more interesting here is the ability of the Japanese community to recycle through such an unprecedented amount of e-waste. Japan has managed to gather more than 47,000 tons of devices and around 5 million used phones.
[via Fast Company, opening image via Tokyo 2020]
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