Tokyo Olympic medals to be made from discarded smartphones


According to Japanese publication Nikkei, organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games want to source the raw gold, silver, and bronze used for producing medals awarded to the winners by recycling the materials found in Japan's millions of discarded smartphones and other pieces of small consumer electronics. All three precious metals are used in various components, due to their conductivity and easy molding to shape.

The requirements for resources are steep, however. The 2012 London Olympics saw 21lbs (9.6kg) of gold, 2667lbs (1210kg) of silver, and 1543lbs (700kg) of copper get turned to medals for the athletes. This won't be challenge for the organizers, though, as the Japanese recovered 315lbs (143kg) of gold, 3452lbs (1566kg) of silver, and 1112 tons of copper from electronic waste in 2014. An interesting fact is that the amount of gold and silver found in Japanese e-waste constitutes 16% and 22% of the world's total reserves, respectively.

About 650,000 tons of small electronics and home appliances are discarded in Japan every year, with the country collecting an estimated less than 100,000 tons of it. Most of the time, metals recovered from e-waste are used to make new electronics.

source: Nikkei (in English)

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