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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals to Be Made of Recycled Cell Phones and Laptops

Runner’s World logo Runner’s World 7/26/2019 Andrew Dawson
a can of soda: It is just one of the sustainability efforts Japan is planning for the upcoming games. © Courtesy of Tokyo Olympics It is just one of the sustainability efforts Japan is planning for the upcoming games.

As we hit exactly one year mark until the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the countdown has begunand with that, the unveiling of the medals that the best athletes in the world will take home next summer.

The medals boast the classic designs that fans see every four years as stipulated by the Interantional Olympic Committee: Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, the name of the host city, and the five Olympic rings, according to Tokyo 2020.

What makes these medals special to Japan, though, is the public input and assistance that went into their creation.

For starters, the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games began the medal-making process with a design competition. More than 400 entries were submitted, but only onefrom Japanese designer Junichi Kawanishiwas chosen for the design of the roughly 5,000 medals for the Games.

Once a design was set, they needed metals to create the gold, silver, and bronze prizes. Japan took a sustainable route for this: In April of 2017, they began sourcing metals from recycled and used cell phones, laptops, handheld games, and cameras for the medals.

Two years later, the public fulfilled the call, as 78,985 tons small electronic devices were collected from municipal authorities and around 6.21 million used mobile phones from shops across the country.

In total, around 70 pounds of gold, 7,716 pounds of silver, and 4,850 pounds of bronze were sourced from 1,621 local authorities.

All additional metal that isn’t used for the Olympic medals will be used for medals in local sports events across Japan.

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That isn’t the only sustainability efforts Japan is planning for the upcoming games. In addition to recycling metal, other efforts for Tokyo 2020 include using household plastic and marine plastic waste to create podiums for the medal ceremonies snd producing Olympic Torch relay uniforms with recycled plastic bottles.

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