The countdown is on for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. With less than one year to go, preparation for the global athletic event of the century is well underway.
While the Olympics are heavily steeped in tradition, the prestigious medals are being created with an innovative future in mind. Thanks to the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project, all of the medals awarded to the Olympic and Paralympic champions will be completely made of recycled materials.
This massive undertaking was accomplished by The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Toyko 2020) with a country-wide donation drive of small electronic devices such as used mobile phones. According to their website, “in the two years between April 2017 and March 2019, 100 per cent of the metals required to manufacture the approximately 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals have been extracted from small electronic devices.” In order to create the 5,000 recycled medals, they needed 66 pounds of gold, 9,000 pounds of silver, and 6,000 pounds of bronze. Due to their efforts, Japan was able to recycle over 47,000 tons of tech waste and more than 5 million cell phones.
According to Popular Mechanics, “Tokyo took inspiration from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, which implemented a similar method of reusing electronics.“ While the Vancouver 2010 medals weren’t made of 100% recycled gadgets, their efforts set a precedent for planning the Olympics Games with the health of the planet in mind.
Japan is not only continuing eco-friendly Olympic practices, it is evolving and expanding them. The recycled medals are just one part of The Sustainability Concept of the Tokyo 2020 Games, which aims to “ensure that the positive impacts of the Tokyo 2020 Games will extend far beyond the parameters of Tokyo, the Host City, to encompass the whole of Japan and the world.”