Olympic and Paralympic medals for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games will be made from recycled smartphones and other cellphones and small appliances.

medals for Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be be made of cellphone scraps

The Japanese public will be asked to donate old cellphones and other electronics in order to gather two tons of gold, silver and bronze required for the 5,000 medals.

The initiative aims to promote sustainability and reduce costs.

“A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good,” said Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi. “There’s a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment.”


A week of sports news in your in-box.
We find the sports news you need to know, so you don't have to.

Collection boxes will be placed in local offices and telecommunication stores beginning in April and will remain there until the amount of metal required has been amassed.

Members of Japan’s Olympic organizing committee suggested the idea to government officials and companies in 2016.

Olympic host cities have usually obtained the metal from mining companies.

However, Japan, which lacks its own mineral resources, is determined to take an even more eco-friendly approach.

How will consumer electronics help with this project? Discarded electronics contain small amounts of precious and rare earth metals, including platinum, palladium, gold, silver, lithium, cobalt and nickel.

Scrap cars and home appliances such as fridges and air conditioners also contain these rarer metals, along with base metals, including iron, copper, lead and zinc.

Recycling or refining companies– most from developing nations like China, India and Indonesia– either collect or purchase tons of these industrial scraps. They then use chemical processes to separate the different metals.

Despite Japan’s scarcity of natural resources, the gold and silver found inside its consumer electronics “is equivalent to 16 percent and 22 percent of the world’s total reserves, respectively — surpassing the reserves of any natural resources-abundant nation,” Nikkei stated in a report last year.

In other news relating to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, activists said Tuesday that Japan must make public spaces in its capital smoke-free by the time the games begin or risk breaking International Olympic Committee rules that call for a healthy games.

The IOC requires “tobacco-free games, and all recent host cities, including Rio– which hosted last summer’s games— have passed legislation to ban smoking in indoor and enclosed public spaces, including restaurants, bars and cafes.

Japan’s health minister has stated the country is determined to eliminate smoking in public by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympics. But smoking remains such a big part of Japanese culture that there is still a cigarette vending machine in a Health Ministry annex.

Japanese laws encourage restaurants and other public spaces to reduce exposer to second-hand smoking by setting up barriers to separate smoking and non-smoking areas, although there are no punishments for non-compliance.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – SEPTEMBER 07: International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge pulls out the name of the city of Tokyo elected to host the 2020 Summer Olympics during a session of the IOC in Buenos Aires, on September 7, 2013. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini /Pool/Getty Images)

Read more about:

Leave a comment

Listen to the uInterview Podcast!
Get the most-revealing celebrity conversations with the uInterview podcast!