Despite the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games not starting for another year, Tokyo is already on top of its game medal-wise.
Not only is Japan getting the Tokyo Olympic medals ready an entire year early, it’s also making the gold, silver, and bronze medals entirely from 78,985 tons of recycled electronics.
More than 6.2 million recycled mobile phones were used to create the medals, with the gadgets reportedly containing everything that’s needed to make them.
According to the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project, just 32 kilograms of gold, 3,500 kilograms of silver, and 2,200 kilograms of bronze were extracted from the nearly 80,000 tons of recycled gadgets.
Since starting the project in April 2017, Tokyo 2020 and Japanese mobile carrier NTT Docomo – who collected the mobile phones – extracted enough metal from old gadgets to make approximately 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals.
A statement from the organisers read:
We are grateful for everyone’s cooperation to this project. We hope that our project to recycle small consumer electronics and our efforts to contribute to an environmentally friendly and sustainable society will become a legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The small electronic devices donated by people across the country will be classified and dismantled in line with the government’s Act on Promotion of Recycling of Small Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment.
After the gold, silver and bronze elements have been extracted from the parts by the smelting contractors, the medals will then be made.
The extracted elements will then be turned into usable metals, such as gold, which will then be turned into the 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals.
The design of the 2020 Olympic medals was revealed on Wednesday (July 24), USA Today reports. Designed by Olympic medal designer Junichi Kawanishi, who was granted the opportunity after winning a competition that drew over 400 entries, the medals’ overall themes are ‘brilliance’ and ‘light’.
According to Tokyo 2020, the design of the medals ‘reflects the concept that in order to achieve glory, athletes have to strive for victory on a daily basis’.
Each medal resembles a rough stone on its reverse side, which then appears to have been polished and therefore now shines bright.
It’s not known whether the medal cases or victory medal ribbon will be made from recycled materials, although making the ribbons from recycled plastic would certainly be a good opportunity to cut back on single-use plastics in the fight against plastic pollution.
Hats off to Japan for leading the way with such an innovative idea – and so far in advance, as well!
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).