Who would have guessed that the outdated and broken electronics we discard might one day find themselves to be the coveted prize at the Olympics?
Back in 2014, Japan recovered up to 143 kg of gold, 1,566 kg of silver, and 1,112 tons of copper (which is an essential component in making bronze). According to Nikkei Asian Review, Japan was able to collect these from discarded electronics. And based on London’s 2012 Olympics, the only materials needed to make the medals are 9.6 kg of gold, 1,210 kg of silver, and 700kg of copper.
Unlike other cities hosting the games that ask mines for donations for these materials, Japan chose to accumulate the materials through recycling.
The London’s 2012 Olympics used a total of 9.6 kg of gold, 1,210 kg of silver, and 700 kg of copper for their medals.
In the 2016 Rio Olympics, 812 gold medals, 812 silver medals, and 864 bronze medals were produced.
Japan has a very thorough system for recycling discarded consumer electronics, which they started in 1970. However, this effort required specially trained workers to dismantle and recycle the electronic material, and the cost of hiring those workers proved to be too high.
So now, Japan’s laws concerning electronic waste involves two things: encouraging the manufacturers to voluntarily help recycle goods to reduce waste, and adding more requirements of the efforts of both consumers and manufacturers of home appliances.
Japan has very stringent rules when it comes to recycling electronics, and this may pave the way for a more streamlined collection of the materials needed for the 2020 Olympic medals.
In line with the effort to gain a more cost-effective and environmentally healthy means of gathering the materials needed to create the Olympic medals, Tokyo Olympic officials met with government members and representatives from a mobile phone company, precious metals company, and several recycling companies.
Japanese people willingly donated their old electronics and now here are the medals for the sports event:
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