Japan recycled nearly 80,000 tons of cell phones and other electronics to make the medals for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics

tokyo 2020 olympic medalsCourtesy of Tokyo 2020

The 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games in Tokyo don't start for another year, but Japan hasn't wasted any time in getting the medals ready.

Tokyo 2020 is making the the gold, silver, and bronze medals entirely from 78,985 tons of recycled electronics, including 6.21 million recycled cellphones, according to the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project.

It turns out that gadgets contain everything that's needed to make the medals. Tokyo 2020 didn't say if the ribbons were also made from the old electronics, but perhaps the recycled plastic could make for good ribbon material?

I wouldn't start tearing apart electronics to extract their precious metals, however. Of the nearly 80,000 tons of recycled gadgets, only 32 kilograms of gold, 3,500 kilograms of silver, and 2,200 kilograms of bronze (copper and zinc in this case) were extracted, according to Tokyo 2020.

{{}}

View As: One Page Slides

In two years, Tokyo 2020 extracted enough metal from old gadgets to make approximately 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals.

In two years, Tokyo 2020 extracted enough metal from old gadgets to make approximately 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals.

The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project — including Japanese mobile carrier NTT Docomo, which collected the cellphones — started collections between April 2017 and March 2019. In those two years, the project amassed enough relevant metal for approximately 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals.

The recycling process included dismantling and sorting the gadgets ...

The recycling process included dismantling and sorting the gadgets ...

... as well as smelting and refining their parts until they turned into this: usable metals. In the case below, gold.

... as well as smelting and refining their parts until they turned into this: usable metals. In the case below, gold.

Eventually, that gold would turn into this: the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic gold medal.

Eventually, that gold would turn into this: the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic gold medal.

It's hard to believe the Tokyo 2020 medals started off as just a pile of old tech.

It's hard to believe the Tokyo 2020 medals started off as just a pile of old tech.
Subscribe to whatsappSubscribe to whatsapp
Add Comment()
Comments ()
X
Sort By:
Be the first one to comment.
We have sent you a verification email. This comment will be published once verification is done.