The Olympic medals for the Japanese Summer games in 2020 won’t be made from newly mined metals. Instead, the Tokyo games will use medals made of recycled phones.
While Olympic medals have varied in their looks in the past, the basic elements have stayed constant. One side of the medal features some version of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and gold medals must have, according to Olympic rules, “at least 6 grams of pure gold, while the other two medals are of silver of at least 925-1000 grade.” Traditionally, these elements have been attained through contracts with mining corporations.
While the Rio Olympics started down a more eco-friendly path, making sure 30% of its silver and bronze metals were recycled, Tokyo is completely doing away with the tradition. The Games will appeal to the Japanese public to donate enough metal to fulfill demand for the 5,000 medals to be awarded. The hope is collect eight tons of metal overall, which can then be processed into two tons worth of what is necessary for the creation of the medals.
“A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good,” Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi said. “There’s a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment.”
Forgoing a mining contract in favor of a recycling effort should allow the Tokyo Games to do a little cost-cutting, even considering the advertising needed to promote the effort. Considering how the Games are currently looking at a budget exceeding $30 billion, every penny helps.
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.