The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Medals Are Recycled From Old Mobile Phones & Other Electronics

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

Cover image via Reuters via Malay Mail & Tokyo 2020

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Over the course of two years, Japan's citizens donated their old mobile phones and electronic devices to be made into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics medals

The collection ran from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2019.

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."

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

Additionally, 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," the organising committee said in a statement to mark the end of the collection period.

Additionally, the ribbons of the medals are 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 stunning anime characters:

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

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