Tokyo’s Olympic medals for the 2020 Olympic games this year are all made out of recycled electronic items, including mobile phones.
Between April 2017 and March 2019, the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project collected approximately 78,985 tonnes of small electronic devices to use in their recycled medals. Once collected, the items were then classified and dismantled, allowing for the extraction process to begin via smelting.
Through this process, the medal project managed to collect 32kg of gold, 3,500kg of silver and 2,200kg of bronze – materials that would otherwise have gone to waste.
The Environmental Impact of Wasted Electronic Items
It should be no secret by now that e-waste is a secret killer when it comes to climate change; 50 million tonnes of e-waste are produced each year globally, with only 20% of it being properly recycled. The rest goes to landfill, polluting the planet by releasing deadly toxins into our air, land and water.
Sustainability at the Games
The recycled medals are part of a larger push for sustainability at the Olympic Games. Other projects such as using 100% renewable energy, public transportation, and even strange-looking cardboard beds have all helped to make an effort towards a more sustainable Games.