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Mining precious metals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Japan has collected 2.7 tonnes of bronze from e-scrap to create all bronze medals for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach was the latest official to donate a used mobile phone to the unique recycling endeavour.

The next Olympic Games have sparked an increase in e-cycling in Japan. The driver is Japan’s eco-mission to use recycled metals for the 5000 gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to athletes at the 2020 event. Organisers received their first batch of recycled precious metals last month.

The target for recycled bronze medals has already been achieved while a total of 16.5 kg of gold has been collected from e-scrap recyclers. The latter represents 55% of gold required, according to IOC president Thomas Bach.

Also, 1800kg of silver has been recovered, representing 44% of the target.
Bach is confident that the remaining portion of metals will be collected by March 2019. He cites a monthly increase in Japan’s collection rates for electronic scrap as a main reason. Rates were boosted further by several athletes donating used electronics to the cause.

Medal designs are expected to be unveiled next year. The Paralympic Games will also hand out exclusively recycled medals.

The nationwide collection project for used electronics was first established in April 2017. The initiative is supported by the Japanese mobile phone operator NTT DOCOMO, as well as Japan’s Ministry of the Environment and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

A collection of Olympic medals from the past few decades.

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