Tokyo Olympic Medals Will be Made From E-Waste

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 00:19

Japanese authorities plan “to source the gold, silver and bronze needed to make medals for 2020 Tokyo Olympics from electronic waste

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, electronic waste contains enough precious metals to produce all the medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Japan's capital four years from now, according to a group of Olympic organizers, government officials and company executives that discussed the proposal in June. The group plans to tap into the country’s “urban mine” which consists of millions of discarded smartphones and other small consumer electronics.

Olympic hosts ask mining companies to donate the necessary metal, but the gold and silver recovered from small consumer electronics in Japan has been estimated as equivalent to 16% and 22% of the world’s total reserves, respectively.

E-waste, which comprises precious metals like gold and silver, can produce more gold than what is obtained through mining, according to academics such as Pranabesh Ray, Dean (Academics), XLRI - Xavier School of Management, who recently stated that fifty pounds of gold and 20,000 pounds of copper could be extracted from one million discarded cell phones, if processed properly.

At this year’s games in Rio, Olympic medals were also recycled from waste materials: About 30% of the silver, used to make both the gold and silver medals, came from leftover mirrors, solder and X-ray plates. Bronze medals were made with copper waste from the national mint, and even the ribbons were crafted from recycled plastic.

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