Japan Wants Olympic Medals Made From Old Electronics

It says there's enough metal in old phones and tablets to make the medals
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2016 5:06 PM CDT
The gold medal that boxer Claressa Shields bites into at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be made out of recycled electronics.   (Ryan Garza/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)

(Newser) – The precious metals used to make the next batch of Olympic medals might not come out of the ground but out of our pockets. The BBC reports Japan's Olympic organizing committee is considering making the medals for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics out of recycled electronic waste. Using the tiny bits of gold, silver, and other precious metals found inside smartphones, tablets, and other electronics would make up for Japan's lack of mineral resources and—according to Nikkei—bolster Japan's Olympic theme of a "sustainable future."

Japan says there's more than enough precious metal in its electronic waste to make the medals for the Olympics and Paralympics. The trick is getting those metals. Japan throws away approximately 650,000 tons of electronics every year, but only about 100,000 tons of that is recycled. And most of the metals from recycled electronics go toward making new electronics, Engadget reports. Japan is currently trying to figure out how to increase electronic recycling among its citizens. One possibility is to advertise it as a way for everybody to be a part of the Olympic Games. (Read more Japan stories.)

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