Old Cell Phones in Japan May Be Turned into 2020 Olympic Medals
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Old Cell Phones in Japan May Be Turned into 2020 Olympic Medals

The Rio Olympics are barely over, and we’re already hearing news about what to expect in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. In an effort to make their turn at the Olympics as eco-friendly as possible, Japan is looking to make the athletes’ medals out of recycled materials, specifically old cell phones.

Japanese authorities are apparently looking into tapping the country’s “urban mine,” instead of mining for new materials. Although Japan does not have many natural resources, its urban mine is estimated to contain the equivalent of 16 percent and 22 percent of the world’s total reserves of gold and silver.

In London’s 2012 Olympics, the medals necessitated 21 pounds of gold, 2,670 pounds of silver and 1,540 pounds of copper. Japan should have no problem sourcing recycled materials. In 2014 alone, the massive heap of old cell phones and other electronics was estimated to contain 315 pounds of gold, 3,450 pounds of silver and 2,450 pounds of copper.

Officials in Rio also recycled materials for the medals this year. About 30 percent of the silver used came from leftover mirrors and X-Ray plates. The national mint gave copper waste for the bronze medals, and the ribbons were made from recycled plastic.

Should we start awarding Olympic organizers with green medals?

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(h/t Quartz; photos via Laurence Griffiths/Getty, Getty)