Tokyo’s Olympic Medals Could be Sourced from Discarded Smartphones

Connector Summer 2016

Organizers of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo aim to produce gold, silver, and bronze medals from the metals found in discarded smartphones and other electronics, according to a report from the Nikkei Asian Review. The hope is that such a scheme would help raise awareness around so-called “e-waste,” though Japan would need to implement a more comprehensive system for collecting discarded electronics.

Japan isn’t as resource-rich as other countries, though it does have a large “urban mine” of precious metals found in e-waste. According to Nikkei, the gold and silver contained in the country’s discarded electronics account for 16 percent and 22 percent of global supply, respectively, and its e-waste supply should be sufficient to produce Olympic medals.

According to Nikkei, Japan generates approximately 650,000 tons of e-waste every year, though less than 100,000 tons are collected – and much of that amount goes toward producing new electronics. Many municipalities in Japan have fallen short of the collection targets set by the Environment Ministry, but the hope is that the Olympic medal initiative could encourage more electronic recycling.

Source: The Verge