The new Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals are ready, and made out of e-waste.

The Olympic medals for the upcoming games are ready, made out of e-waste and recycled cellphones collected over the past two years. The design has been revealed a year before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics start.

Via Tokyo 2020

Tokyo 2020: Olympic Medals made of recycled e-Waste

As has been the tradition since the first games in Athens back in 1896, Nike, Greek goddess of victory, is part of the design alongside the Olympic rings and the official name of the Tokyo Olympic games. The design comes from the talented hands of Japanese designer Junichi Kawanishi.

The 8,5cm-wide medals won’t be made purely out of gold, silver or bronze, but will be partly made of e-waste and recycled cellphones that the Olympic games organization has been gathering for the past two years, as part of the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project, which encouraged citizens to participate by donating their e-waste, such as tablets, smartphones and others, in order to collect enough material to manufacture some 5,000 medals meant for the Tokyo 2020 athletes.

1.621 municipalities participated, gathering around 78.985 tons of recycling material, or around 6.21 million cellphones – all donated at the NIT Docomo stores. Out of those materials, the following was extracted:

Tokyo 2020: Olympic Medals made of recycled e-Waste
  • 32 Kg of gold.
  • 3.500 Kg of silver.
  • 2.200 Kg of bronze.

Each gold medal weights around 556g, which makes it considerably heavier than the silver ones, given their plating. Regarding the bronze medals, they are the lightest at only 450g, made of around 95% bronze and 5% zinc.

The gesture is meant to create awareness regarding the environment and the importance of making recycling practices part of our daily life. The Olympic games organization explains it like this:

“The design of the Tokyo 2020 medals reflects the concept that, in order to reach glory, athlethes have to fight for victory each and every day. The medals resemble raw stones, polished to a shine. They reflect innumerable patterns of light that symbolize the athlete’s energy and those who support them.”

With the rest of the recycled materials, the organization hopes to manufacture medals for local Japanese sports leagues. The plastic is expected to be used for the construction of the podiums and all recycled plastic bottles are expected to end up as part of the uniforms of those who will carry the Olympic torch.

The challenge: Getting a handle on e-waste before 2025.

Tokyo 2020: Olympic Medals made of recycled e-Waste
E-Waste can be recycled.

FOSPUCA director, José Simón Erlaba, commented on the results of the research paper titled Statistics on the National Growth of Electronic Waste and the Movement of Electronic Junk Among Countries, where he noticed an alarming growth when it comes to the production of this particular type of waste, one of more than 30% in the last decade alone. That is to say, around 3% per year.

The paper is the work of a team of experts at the Harokopio University of Athens, led by professor Katia Lasaridi, and estimates that the greatest growth has occurred in the area of the Asian Pacific, where around 3,6Kg of e-waste is produced by each person, by 2016 standards. Said number is expected to go up to 5Kg per person by 2025, which matches Japan’s Olympic medal initiative.

Meanwhile, Venezuela cannot offer any number regarding our own level of production when it comes to any type of waste, according to José Simón Erlaba, which means that any recycling initiative should start from the very beginning.