2020 Tokyo Olympic medals will be made of recycled electronics

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,591   +124
Staff member

The world’s collective eyes were fixed on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last August as athletes from around the globe completed in the Rio Summer Olympic Games. Years earlier, however, organizers in Japan set in motion the wheels for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

One novel idea to emerge from the years of planning was recently revealed by the organizing committee. In lieu of mining raw materials used to create the gold, silver and bronze medals to be awarded to athletes, the committee has instead elected to source the needed materials from old electronics.

As you may know, obsolete electronics such as mobile phones, computers and even kitchen appliances contain very small amounts of precious metal. Beginning in April, the committee is inviting its citizens to drop off unused electronic devices at one of more than 2,400 collection stations at NTT Docomo stores (and an undecided number of public offices via the Japan Environmental Sanitation Center) across the country.

The aim is to collect as much as eight tons of metal – around 40kg of gold, 4,290 kg of silver and 2,944 kg of bronze – and refine it down to around two tons, the amount the committee says it needs to produce 5,000 medals for the 2020 Olympics.

Fun fact – Olympic gold medals haven’t been made of actual gold since 1912.

The idea here is all about sustainability. Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, said the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic medals will be made out of people's thoughts and appreciation for avoiding waste.

I wonder how that jives with the country’s reported interest in putting on a man-made meteor shower during the opening ceremony.

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MilwaukeeMike

Posts: 3,213   +1,462
Good thinking Tokyo - we'll all swoon over your environmental prowess and a grand total of zero news stories will cover how much extra energy it'll take to get the puny amounts of gold and silver out of smartphones.

I'm sure it will drive proper disposal at least, since people will like the idea of their phones being used in the medals.
 

Footlong

Posts: 153   +82
Cool. Very good iniciative. People need to be more aware of digital garbage and recycling.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,067   +2,615
It should be easy for them since recycling is already very common there compared to the rest of the world.
 

Tanstar

Posts: 658   +200
They will then ship all of those electronics to China, where the desperately poor (including children) will tear down the devices for the metals and smelt them in unsafe (but cheap) ways. For more harm will be done to the environment than if they had mined them.

Now if they can show that they will do this domestically and safely, then I'll be impressed. Otherwise this is just a politically correct ploy that makes them look good but does nothing positive for the environment.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,483   +5,990
So, how long before we start recycling those Russian athletes we've been hearing about? Or are they going to be banned like everybody else in the world? Inquiring minds want to know!
 

J spot

Posts: 234   +158
I'm sure this news will piss off a lot of people, for no other reason than ideology related to such things.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,410   +5,993
Good thinking Tokyo - we'll all swoon over your environmental prowess and a grand total of zero news stories will cover how much extra energy it'll take to get the puny amounts of gold and silver out of smartphones.

I'm sure it will drive proper disposal at least, since people will like the idea of their phones being used in the medals.
You obviously don't know much about Japan. Maybe in America you can just throw the metal in a landfill and not worry about it for 100 years. The same isn't possible for Japan, where land is scarce and so is materials.
 

Igrecman

Posts: 300   +177
OK, but will the athletes recycle their Tokyo medals one day?
I guess not. #justkidding
 

Badonk4

Posts: 30   +21
They will then ship all of those electronics to China, where the desperately poor (including children) will tear down the devices for the metals and smelt them in unsafe (but cheap) ways. For more harm will be done to the environment than if they had mined them.

Now if they can show that they will do this domestically and safely, then I'll be impressed. Otherwise this is just a politically correct ploy that makes them look good but does nothing positive for the environment.
At least they try to do something. unlike the us.
 
No... the meDals will be made from Bronze Silver and Gold, just like any meDall from any Olympics.

The meTals may be be taken from old electronics, but I question the relevance. All electronics are already recycled for their precious metals.

In other words. YAWN!....
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,633   +926
Good thinking Tokyo - we'll all swoon over your environmental prowess and a grand total of zero news stories will cover how much extra energy it'll take to get the puny amounts of gold and silver out of smartphones.

I'm sure it will drive proper disposal at least, since people will like the idea of their phones being used in the medals.
Still better than mining new precious metals.