Japan Mulling Making Tokyo Olympics Medals from Recycled Smartphones

25 Aug

Tokyo Olympics organizers are working on a plan to make the 2020 Olympic medals of recycled smartphones and other old electronics components, Nikkei Asian Review reported.

According to the report, government officials, Olympics organizers and representatives from related businesses held a meeting in June to discuss such a plan. The individuals believed the use of old smartphones in the gold, silver and bronze medals would help raise people’s awareness of electronic waste, or e-waste. In light of the materials used to make the medals, Japan will need a comprehensive recycling system in place to collect old electronics devices.

The report said that the amount of gold and silver in the electronic waste in Japan is equivalent to 16 percent and 22 percent, respectively, of the world’s total reserves. In 2014, Japan recovered 143 kg of gold, 1,556 kg of silver, and 1,112 kg of bronze from recycled electronics devices. In comparison, 9.6 kg of gold, 1,210 kg of silver, and 700 kg of bronze were used to make the medals in the 2012 London Olympics.

Japan produces some 650,000 tons of e-waste annually, with only 100,000 tons of them recycled. The Japanese government hopes that it can encourage more individuals to recycle discarded electronic devices by utilizing the e-waste for the Olympics, the report added.

E-waste has become a major issue for environmentalists. According to the United Nations, “E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in developed as well as in developing countries.”

(image: TPGimages)