Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games medals made of donated recycled electronics

About 30kg of gold was retrieved from used products.

Jason Fan | July 27, 2019, 12:53 AM

Medals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were unveiled on July 24, 2019, exactly a year before the once-every-four-years Games are set to start.

The best part about the medals this time round?

Unlike previous years, they will be made completely from metals extracted from used electronics donated by Japanese citizens.

Collection began in 2017

In 2017, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee launched its "Everyone's Medal" campaign.

It encouraged citizens to donate various electronic devices for the cause.

Signature yellow donation boxes were placed in post offices and on street corners around the country.

The initiative was helped along by Japanese phone operator NTT Docomo, which allowed the public to donate their used phones at 2,400 stores nation-wide.

Japanese responded overwhelmingly

In true Japanese fashion, the response was astounding, with more than 90 percent of Japan's local authorities participating.

A total of 78,985 tonnes (78 million kg) of discarded electronic devices were collected across the country.

This amounted to 6.21 million used mobile phones, laptops and other small electronic devices.

By March 31, 2019, the campaign achieved its goal of collecting 30.3 kg of gold, 4,100 kg of silver, and 2,700 kg of bronze.

These will be used to make the approximately 5,000 medals given away during the Games.

According to endgadget, the five million unwanted devices that were donated yielded over US$3 million worth of precious metals.

The disparity in sheer amount of gold, silver and bronze retrieved is clear: Most electronic gadgets contain silver and bronze, less so gold, which is a fraction of the total yield.

Tokyo 2020 is all about sustainability

Using recycled metals to make Olympic medals is not new.

The Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil previously showcased medals that were made from 30 percent recycled materials.

However, the scale of the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project is unique.

It is the first time that a host country's citizens were proactively involved in donating the electronic devices used to make the medals.

You can check out a video by Tokyo 2020 giving a preview of what the medals look like:

The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project is not the only environmentally friendly programme.

The uniforms for the upcoming Olympic Torch Relay will be partially produced using recycled plastic bottles.

The victory podiums will also be made from recycled household and marine plastic waste.

Top image from International Olympic Committee