Tokyo 2020: Japan to make Olympics medals from electronics waste

Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games announce "green" and asks Japanese to donate obsolete electronic devices.

The next Summer Olympics, which is set to take place in Tokyo, Japan, is still over 3 years away but the Japanese government has already initiated a unique way to get the citizens involved in the spirit of the game.


Since the country lacks in mineral resources necessary to produce the hundreds of medals needed in the Olympics, organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games have announced a "green" initiative under which discarded electronics parts will be recycled to create materials for the Olympics including medals.

With this initiative the Olympic committee is calling on all Japanese citizens to donate old smartphones or obsolete electronic devices that contain small amounts of precious and rare earth metals, including platinum, gold and silver to create Olympic medals that will be given out during the 2020 Sumer Games.

In 2016 the committee presented their e-waste initiative to the Japanese Government and business leaders. Not only the initiative provides a tangible and sustainable way for all the Japanese people to get involved with the Olympics but also helps satisfy the criteria set up by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

According to TechCrunch, Japan's Olympic Committee will begin placing collection boxes in offices and telecommunication stores around the country beginning in April. The committee is positive on collecting around eight tons of metal (gold: 40 kg - silver: 4,920 kg - bronze: 2,944 kg), which after processing will turn into two tons of usable material and if they reach the goal, the country will be able to produce more or less 5,000 medals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games.


Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi welcomed the initiative, BBC reported. He said that a recycling of this level will make people think about the environment. The idea of a whole nation contributing to the production of the honorary medals for which athletes often spend their entire lives training to obtain has left many past Olympians inspired.

"Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic medals will be made out of people's thoughts and appreciation for avoiding waste," said Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura. "I think there is an important message in this for future generations."

Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura
Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura

"An Olympic medal is one of the most coveted items in existence. People spend decades, often agonizing ones, working to obtain one. The life stories of so many are defined by the pursuit of these metal medallions ... now, thanks to the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project, not only do the athletes inspire with their stories, but each medal itself has a story of its own ... and each citizen has a chance to contribute to the story," two-time US Olympic gold medalist Ashton Eaton said.