An Olympic gold medal is something every athlete dreams about, but this year’s medals are particularly unique because they’re actually made from recycled electronic devices.
“The gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games not only represent the greatest honour for the athletes but also an opportunity for Japan to showcase its culture and charm to the rest of the world,” the description on the Tokyo Olympics website reads.
A whopping 5,000 medals will be awarded throughout this year’s Olympics, so the move to recycle old mobile phones and other devices in the process is part of a larger effort to make the games more sustainable.
Previously, the Olympics hasn’t exactly been synonymous with sustainability, with the estimated carbon emissions of the Rio 2016 Olympics estimated to be 3,600,000 tonnes. Not to mention, the stadium used for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was quite literally demolished after the conclusion of the games.
Thankfully, Tokyo seems to be aiming for a more sustainable Olympics this year, with the recycled medals being just one of many initiatives launched — including the cardboard beds that are not to prevent athletes having sex.
This is the first time in Olympic history that medals have been made from recycled materials, with the gold, silver and bronze elements being smelted and extracted from various electronic devices.
Additionally, the Tokyo games is the first time civilians have been involved in the medal-making process, according to the website.
The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project collected a staggering 78,985 tonnes of electronic devices – including more than 6 million mobile phones – over the span of two years between 2017 and 2019.
Civilians from all over Japan took part in the process, which meticulously extracted gold, silver and bronze components to make the 5,000 medals that will be awarded at this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.
According to the website, 90 per cent of the wards, cities, towns and villages in Japan participated in the initiative.
In total, 32kg of gold, 3,500kg of silver and 2,200kg of bronze was collected for the project.
You can read more about the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project here.