These Stunning Olympic Medals Are Made Out Of Recycled Mobile Phones And Electronics

Over 78,985 tonnes of used small electronic devices were collected over two years.

Cover image via Tokyo 2020/Minami Kinzoku Co via Tokyo 2020 (Edited by SAYS)

Back in February 2017, Japan announced that it would be making its Tokyo 2020 Olympics medals out of recycled electronics.

With one year left to the international sporting event, the final product of that pledge has been revealed.

Image via Tokyo 2020

The medals were unveiled on Wednesday 24 July, by the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as part of the '1 Year to Go!' ceremony.

In a statement on the official Tokyo 2020 website, the committee said, "100% of the metals required to manufacture the approximately 5,000 gold, silver, and bronze medals have been extracted from small electronic devices that were contributed from people all over Japan."

All winning athletes will be awarded these medals made of recycled metals.

Small electronic devices - such as used mobile phones - were collected over two years from April 2017 to March 2019 in order to create the medals

Image via Tokyo 2020

In total, 1,621 municipal authorities across Japan managed to collect approximately 78,985 tonnes of used small electronic devices, including mobile phones.

Meanwhile, mobile phone operator NTT docomo managed to collect 6.21 million used mobile phones through its shops across Japan.

These recycled devices were then dismantled, extracted, refined, and smelted into approximately:
- 32kg of gold,
- 3,500 kg of silver, and
- 2,200kg of bronze.

"We are grateful for everyone's cooperation to this project. We hope that our project to recycle small consumer electronics and our efforts to contribute to an environmentally friendly and sustainable society will become a legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games."

Additionally, the ribbons of the medals will be made from chemically recycled polyester fibres that produce less carbon dioxide

Image via Tokyo 2020
Image via Tokyo 2020

"Chemically recycled polyester fibres that produce less CO2 during their manufacturing process are used; these allow the ribbons to incorporate the Tokyo 2020 core graphic colours and to be extremely durable at the same time," a separate statement explained.

The ribbon will also use a modern interpretation of traditional Japanese design motifs found in 'ichimatsu moyo' (harmonised chequered patterns) and 'kasane no irome' (traditional kimono layering techniques).

Meanwhile, Japanese artists are turning world flags into anime characters to promote the Tokyo 2020 Olympics:

If you want your old mobile phones and electronics to be put to good use as well, check out these places:

You may be interested in: