Organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are looking to turn waste into worth by sourcing the metals for their medals from discarded electronics.
While the island of Japan may lack natural resources it has been labelled as home to the world’s largest ‘urban mine’.
This ‘urban mine’ of gold and silver, contained in consumer electronics, is equivalent to 16% and 22% of the world’s total reserves, respectively easily surpassing the reserves of any natural resources-abundant nation the Asian Review reports.
Traditionally Olympic host cities have relied on the courtesy of mining companies to donate the metal needed for medals however the Tokyo organisers, government officials and company executives believe the precious metals contained in the country’s abundance of electronic waste should be sufficient to produce all the medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.
The idea to use precious metals extracted from e-waste for the Olympic medals was discussed at a meeting held in Tokyo and is in line with the with the sustainability philosophy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
As such the Government of Japan and the Olympic organisers are calling on Citizens to get involved in the drive by recycling their electronic waste and donating their unused mobile phones to gather two tonnes (2 000kg) of gold, silver and bronze for the 5 000 medals needed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.