As athletes gather in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Summer Games top of mind will be making some great memories during the event. For the most successful ones the highest achievement of reaching the podium in competition will not only give them something tangible to preserve the memory in a bronze, silver, or gold medal, but an added bonus of not contributing to a growing environmental problem around the globe: e-waste.
The medals awarded at the Tokyo Games will be made entirely from recycled materials from discarded electronics. Starting 2 years ago Japanese citizens donated cellphones, gaming devices, cameras, hard drives and laptops to the initiative. Part of a theme the event’s organizers have presented of sustainability and environmental responsibility coming out of the Games, this will prevent more technology becoming part of the growing amount of e-waste piling up in landfills around the world. Inspired by the approach put in motion at the 2016 Rio Olympics where the medals were fashioned from 30% recycled materials, in the high-tech land of the Rising Sun the focus is specifically on recycled electronics.
Check out a video showing the making-of the medals from recycled electronic ‘e-waste’.
Do components on the chips, circuit boards and technology that make up electronic devices contain enough bronze, silver and gold to make the large Olympic medals?
In reality, the medals aren’t purely pieces of precious metals but rather coated discs of silver, or in the case of the bronze medal, a copper and zinc mix. To cover the Tokyo 2020 gold medal design you would need approximately 6 grams of gold. Estimates say that you can get a single gram of gold from 35-40 mobile phones. So that explains why almost 79 tonnes of electronics was needed to produce all the medals for the Summer Games!
At CBL, our tech tip when it comes to old tech is normally to “discard with discretion” and protect your privacy by wiping data off devices you are recycling – but contributing them to be melted down into medals for the Olympics is a good method too!
Whether you’re an athlete, journalist or tourist – you don’t want to be unable to access any of that crucial information or those priceless golden moments at the Games in Tokyo either. We have had inquiries from athletes, news agencies and photographers over the years for laptops affected by Summer Games heat, digital camera accidents and USB flash drive backups etc.
We were also inspired to create a quick piece of recycled art from a hard drive in our parts inventory. As you enjoy the Olympics & Paralympics: watching your favourite sports, cheering for your national team athletes, remember when data loss hits, we’re here to help get your golden moments recovered.