Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals to be made from old mobile phones

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be keeping environmental issues in mind.

All of the medals for the upcoming event will be made from recycled mobile phones.

Tokyo 2020 organisers have announced that both the medals for the Olympic and Paralympic events will be made from reclaimed materials.

Japanese citizens are being asked to make donations, as the organisers hope to gather over two tonnes of gold, silver and bronze from a range of phones and other small electrical items.

2020 Olympics Medal 1

The intent is to create 5,000 medals for the winners.

“A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good,” Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi told the BBC.

“There’s a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment.”

According to the BBC:

  • Collection boxes will be placed in local offices and telecoms stores from April and will remain there until the metal required has been collected.
  • Members of Japan’s Olympic organising committee tabled the idea to government officials and companies in 2016.
  • Olympic host cities have traditionally obtained the metal from mining firms.
  • But Japan, which lacks its own mineral resources, is keen to take the theme of a sustainable future a step further.

How does e-waste recycling work?

  • Discarded consumer electronics such as smartphones and tablets contain small amounts of precious and rare earth metals, including platinum, palladium, gold, silver, lithium, cobalt and nickel.
  • Scrap cars and home appliances such as fridges and air conditioners also contain these rarer metals, along with base metals, including iron, copper, lead and zinc.
  • Recycling or refining companies either collect or purchase tons of this e-waste and industrial scraps. They then use chemical processes to separate the various metals.
  • Much of this work takes place in developing countries such as China, India and Indonesia.