The organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are planning to use urban electronic wastes to make the gold, silver, and bronze medals at the Games. The organisers believe that discarded smartphones and other small consumer electronics will be more than enough to make the medals for the Games.
The dust is slowly settling on the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have already started with the organisers planning to go the pro-environment way. According to a Nikkei Asian Review report, the medal winners at the next edition of the quadrennial event could have a medal made out of e-waste around their neck.
Usually, the organisers ask mining companies to donate the necessary metals to make the medals, but the amount of precious metals recovered from discarded electronics in Japan in 2014 included 143kg of gold, 1,566kg of silver and 1,112 tons of copper. That amount is much higher than what was used for the 2012 London Olympics. At London, 9.6kg of gold, 1,210kg of silver and 700kg of copper were used to produce medals. However, with the demand for silver high, it is unclear whether Japan will be able to recycle enough silver by the Games in 2020.
Waste materials were also used at the Games in Rio, and about 30% of the silver which was used in both the silver and gold medals came from leftover mirrors, solder and X-ray plates. On the other hand, bronze medals were made with copper waste from national mint, while the ribbons were crafted from recycled plastic.