The Olympic and Paralympic medals at the Tokyo 2020 Games will be made completely from electronic waste. As a leader in technology development industries, it’s only fitting that Tokyo shows their initiative and commitment to reducing electronic waste in the world. With medals made from old Nokia phones, they will truly last forever.
In 2018, an estimated 47.8 million metric tons of electronic waste was thrown away worldwide. Despite many electronic devices saving many resources, they are quite difficult to dispose of, especially due to the multiple components made of non-biodegradable materials. A high volume of e-waste is actually potentially dangerous and highly toxic. Without proper recycling, poisonous materials like lead and mercury could end up causing a lot of damage.
Organizers of the Games started the project in 2017 to create medals out of e-waste. They collected materials from old smartphones and laptops to get the gold, silver, and bronze required for the medals. The goal was to harvest 30.3kg of gold, 4,100kg of silver, and 2,700kg of bronze by this year. Organizers state that they should reach the target by March this year; the bronze target was reached last June, and 90% of gold and 85% of silver was obtained last October. The materials were collected from Japanese citizens, businesses, and manufacturers.
Japan was one of the first countries to place importance upon the management of e-waste. They began recycling programs in recognition of their booming electronic manufacturing industry. Products produced range from smartphones to kitchen appliances, and all of these products need special programs for disposal. As a leader of technological innovation, Japan has shown the world that one must also be responsible for the waste produced by the industries that bring wealth.
The Olympics and Paralympics are occasions that bring people of the world together. The themes and goals of the Games send an important message to people around the world. With Japan’s focus on e-waste recycling and environmental consciousness, other governments could be inspired to follow suit. Japan should make a gold medal for themselves when it comes to cleaning the environment.