Medals for 2020 Japan Olympics to be made from recycled smartphones

Gold, silver and bronze will be extracyed from 50,000 tons of donated devices

A detailed view of United States swimmer Ryan Held’s Olympic gold medal from 2016. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

A detailed view of United States swimmer Ryan Held’s Olympic gold medal from 2016. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

 

Medals for the 2020 Olympics will be made from recycled electronic devices, the Tokyo Organising Committee has announced.

It comes after millions of smartphones and tons of old digital products were donated.

Nearly 50,000 tons of devices, including cameras, games consoles and laptops, plus more than five million smartphones, were collected for the Old Metals New Medals project across Japan over 18 months since it opened.

“The project has offered the public an opportunity to play an important role in the games’ preparations, at the same time drawing attention to the importance of sustainability under the Tokyo 2020 slogan Be Better, Together — for the Planet and the People,” said the committee in a statement.

A Team GB spokesman said: “We think this is an excellent initiative and it is something we have been supporting through our frequent visits to Tokyo, encouraging both recycling and people to support the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”

The Japanese public donated their old devices at shops and municipal authorities across the country before they were dismantled, smelted, refined and turned into the raw metals.

Some 2,700kg of bronze had already been extracted by June 2018 and by October there had been 28.4kg of gold and 3,500kg of silver extracted from the donations.

“We’re getting to the point where our generation needs to think about the next step, our future ... so being able to recycle these phones that maybe get lost in cupboards or don’t get touched for years is a great way to re-utilise them and make them into something that’s going to be as important,” British Olympic swimmer Ben Proud said when the project first launched.

The medal designs will be unveiled in summer 2019.

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