Olympics is famous for being the biggest sporting festival in the world, and Rio Olympics 2016 didn’t fail to live up to this claim. Rio became a glorious melting pot of athletes from all over the world for 17 days, with people and players from across the globe joining in the celebration of sportsmanship, love and equality. For this reason, Olympic enthusiasts can’t ever get enough of the games, and now all eyes are on Tokyo for the next stint of Olympics in 2020.
We all expect something special and out of this world from the great city of Tokyo, and it is already making headlines by announcing that they are going to make the Olympic gold, silver and copper medals using discarded smartphones and other electronics. Japan’s e-waste stream has shown the world that it can indeed produce enough precious metals to cover the demand; and it is only the matter of collecting the discarded electronics from the public.
According to Nikkei Asian Review, the efficiency and practicality of the e-waste system can be judged from the fact that Japan recovered 143 kg of gold, 1,566 kg of silver and 1,112 tonnes of copper in 2014 just by recycling and processing small, discarded electronics. Usually, the country which hosts Olympics requests local mining companies to donate the materials, but judging from the fact that in London Olympics 2012 only 9.6kg of gold, 1,210kg of silver and 700kg of copper were needed to make all the winning medals, Japan may not have to go that route after all!
The infrastructure to extract the metals is not a problem, but collecting the devices to do so is still a work in progress. Japan still has no practical system for collecting discarded consumer electronics, and a law making the recycling of home appliances mandatory in 2013 didn’t work out very well too. Also, the precious recycled materials, especially silver is high in demand, so getting an allocation for the Olympics medals might be a tough task.
Olympics officials are already in a frenzy about this idea and have recently met with government members and representatives from recycling companies, a mobile phone company and a precious metals company. They are seriously mulling over the proposals on raising awareness in the public about the collection of used devices, and also to streamline the collection process the Games’ in Tokyo come 2020. Have anything to add to this article? Let us know in the comments’ section below!