In Tokyo, Japan’s capital and an Olympian this summer, officials are handing out medals, all of which were made using metals recycled from used electronics.
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Qian Yang, a Chinese athlete who won the 10m rifle event, was the first to stand atop the podium at the Tokyo Olympics. She is the first gold medal winner of the 2020 Olympics, as well as the first to receive a medal made from recycled electronic components.
As promised four years ago by the organizing committee of the Tokyo games, all the medals that will be distributed during the event, bronze, silver or gold, will have been produced thanks to the recycling of electronic devices donated by the public. The committee called on the public to donate as many used devices as possible to be recycled in order to extract the components and metals needed to make the medals.
“An important message for future generations
A very well attended appeal, so much so that the organizers were overwhelmed with smartphones, cameras and other laptops to dismantle. In total, more than 47,000 tons of devices were collected, including the weight of the 5 million mobile phones collected by NTT, Japan’s leading operator and partner in the event. The organizing committee needed 2,700 kg of bronze, 4.1 kg of silver and 30.3 kg of gold to design the 5,000 medals for the best athletes of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. As of March 2019, enough devices had been received to meet the target.
For Kohei Uchimura, a gold medal-winning gymnast who served as the relay for this recycling awareness campaign, “this is a lot of waste avoided and a very important message for future generations.” This is the first time that all Olympic medals are made of recycled metals, although in Rio (2016), 30% of the silver used to make the medals was already recycled. Will a similar initiative be conducted for the 2024 Olympics, which, as a reminder, will be held in Paris?