Tokyo 2020 Olympics medals to be made from recycled phones

By Allen Cone   |   Feb. 1, 2017 at 12:56 PM
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Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Japan plans to make the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic medals from recycled electronic devices instead of metal from a traditional mining process.

Tokyo 2020 announced plans Wednesday for the Japanese public to donate old cellphones and other devices for 5,000 gold, bronze and silver medals.Tokyo 2020 hopes to collect eights tons of metal that will become two tons after the production process.

"A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good," Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi said. "There's a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment."

Collection boxes at 2,400 cellphone stores and public offices will be available throughout Japan starting in April and ending when enough material is donated.

In the past, the metal in the medals came from mining companies.

The silver and bronze medals at the Olympics in Rio last summer contained 30 percent recycled material.

"The awesomeness of this medal project makes me want to come out of retirement and compete for one," Ashton Eaton, a two-time Olympic champion and decathlon world record holder from the United States posted on Twitter.

In a release from Tokyo 2020, Eaton said, "Thanks to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medal Project not only do the athletes inspire with their stories, but each medal itself has a story of its own! The best part is that each citizen has a chance to contribute to the story, to raise awareness about a sustainable future and to make a unique contribution. And, most excitingly, they have a chance to be part of the Olympic journey."

Electronic devices contain small amounts of metals, including platinum, palladium, gold, silver, lithium, cobalt and nickel. Home appliances include iron, copper, lead and zinc.

Companies use chemical processes to separate the various metals.

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