Japan Will Use E-waste for 2020 Olympic Medals
Science & Tech / /
The metal for the Olympic medals that were given to the athletes was traditionally obtained from mining firms. An innovation for the following Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 would be that the medals that will be given to the most successful athletes will be made from recycled mobile phones. A reason for that is that Japan lacks its own mineral resources, therefore is keen to look for a solution in a more sustainable sources.
As it was announced by the organizers, residents of Japan will be invited to donate their old mobile phones and small appliances that are not in use, in order to collect two tons of gold, silver and bronze by their recycling and to create 5.000 medals for the Olympics.
"There is a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment. A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good," said Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi.
BBC reported last year that members of Japan's Olympic organising committee tabled the idea to government officials and companies at the beginning of 2016.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has developed strict criteria for the world's greatest sporting event, and this extends to how the medals should be produced. The Rio Olympics, for example, used gold that was extracted without the use of mercury and a third of the silver and bronze used came from recycled sources, BBC reported.
Boxes for collection of the mobile phones will already be placed in local offices and telecoms stores in April. Knowing that each year medals seem to be bigger, and that five new sports have also been added to the Tokyo 2020 competition, including sport climbing, baseball, karate and surfing, the exact amount of metal needed will depend on the size and number of medals.
According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development , Japan has one of the highest recycling rates in Asia, but this mainly applies to paper, plastic and glass.
For collecting enough gadgets, Japan would probably have to ask individual countries or companies to contribute towards the recycled metal collection effort.
About 650.000 tones of small electronics and home appliances are throw as a trash in Japan every year. However, it is estimated that less than 100.000 tones is collected for recycling.