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Sustainab-lympics: Tokyo 2020 Games boasts medals made from e-waste

By Jennylou Canon

PHOTO: DW Global Ideas

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics isn’t just about winning medals — it’s also about winning towards sustainability.

Thanks to Japan’s “most environmentally friendly and sustainable Games so far” goal, the 2020 Olympics will be featuring medals made from electronic waste, the first of its kind.



Named as the “Tokyo 2020 Medal Project,” discarded devices were collected in the past two years through yellow donation boxes placed across Japan.
 
According to the Tokyo Organizing Committee on Olympic Games (TOCOG), 78,985 tons, or 6.21 million, of discarded devices were collected within two years and were used to create 5,000 medals for the event.

At the end of March in 2019, organizers were able to gather 30.3kg of gold, 4,100kg of silver, and 2,700kg of bronze.

The material of the medal was not only the highlight of Japan’s proactive participation with the public, it also highlighted the medal design nationwide contest. 

The medal’s design was made by Junichi Kawanishi, Director of the Japan Sign Design Association and the Osaka Design Society.

Kawanishi’s design was chosen out of 400 entries of the nationwide competition.



“With their shining rings, I hope the medals will be seen as paying tribute to the athletes’ efforts, be seen as paying tribute to athletes’ efforts, reflecting their glory, and symbolizing friendship,” Kawanishi said.

Aside from E-waste medals, TOCOG took sustainability a step further with their podiums and Torch Relay uniforms made from recycled household and marine plastic waste. 

Also, even beds that will be used by athletes in the Olympic village are made out of recycled cardboard and will be disposed of after the Games. 

Surprisingly, while cardboard beds may sound like they’re fragile, they can support around 200kg of weight.

Tokyo 2020 isn’t the only Olympic Games that used recycled materials for their medals, as the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games silver and bronze medals were made from 30% recycled materials.


Report sources: EWaste1, BBC News