The organizing committee collected nearly 80,000 tons of used electronics to make 5,000 gold, silver, and bronze medals.

By Kelly Vaughan
July 30, 2019
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals
Credit: Atsushi Tomura/Getty

The 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo are less than a year away, which means that preparations are well underway for the ceremonies. The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games just revealed the design for the official gold, silver, and bronze medals, which will be made entirely of recycled electronic devices sourced from Japan. This isn't the first time recycled electronics were used to create the medals; the same method for extracting gold, silver, and bronze from cell phones and other digital devices was used in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. At the 2016 summer games in Brazil, gold medals were mercury-free, another nod towards sustainability.

After spending more than two years collecting donated electronics, the committee was able to extract approximately 71 pounds of gold, 7,700 pounds of silver, and 4,850 pounds of bronze from 78,985 tons of electronics. "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," Tokyo 2020 officials said in a statement to CNET.

Junichi Kawanishi is the artist behind the medals; his used of upcycled materials impressed the organizing committee, who sifted through more than 400 entries before choosing him, according to Treehugger. In addition to sustainably-sourced metals, the ribbon holding the medals is made from co2-friendly recycled polyester and there are plans to use other recycled household materials to create the podiums.

An estimated $25 million will be spent to stage the 2020 games in Tokyo. "We can say that Tokyo has been doing its best to deliver the Games in a sustainable way," said Masa Takaya, a spokesman for the committee, earlier this month.


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