As the winners lift their medals this Olympic, the people of Japan will be proud as this is the first time when all the Olympic medals are made out of E-waste; used smartphones and laptops.
A question might subconsciously pop out in your mind: if the medals are made of E-waste, how will the winners get gold, silver, and bronze medals?
Our thrown electronic devices contain a small number of precious metals like gold, silver, platinum and other high-value metals.
Gold is used for ensuring high quality and super-fast data transfer in electronic devices. E-waste from only five computers contains around 1 gram gold, reports DW.
The E-waste collection for the "Tokyo Olympic 2020 Medal project" started in April 2017 and continued till March 2019. Donation points for collecting discarded e-wastes were set up all across Japan. Around 90% of the Japanese donated their obsolete phones and electronic devices as they learned their discarded devices would be used to make Olympic medals.
The project allowed all the Japanese to be a part of the Tokyo Olympic 2020.
Around 78,985 tons of electronic waste was accumulated, which included around 6.2 million used mobile phones.
Collected E-waste was recycled as per the country's law, and around 32 Kg gold, 3500 kg of silver and 2250 kg of bronze were extracted to make Olympic and Para Olympic medals. 5000 gold, 5000 silver and 5000 bronze medals were made out of extracted precious metals from E-waste.
After the recycling process, the precious metals were moulded into the medal design made by Japanese designer Junichi Kawanishi.
Out of the medal designs by 400 professional designers and students, Kawanishi's medal design was selected for Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Previously, in Rio Olympics 2016, 30% of the sterling silver used for making Olympic medals were obtained from car parts and mirror surfaces. However, Japan is the pioneer of making 100% Olympic medals out of E-waste.
According to the UN Global E-waste monitor report, only 17.4% of the 53.1 billion E-waste were collected and recycled. This means recoverable high-value materials like gold, platinum, silver worth $57 billion were burned instead of being collected and reused.
Our planet is sinking with waste. The shorter lifespan of devices and the tendency to change phones frequently create an alarming rate of E-waste globally. According to UN's Global E-waste monitor 2020, around 53.6 million e-waste was produced in 2019, surging the number of E-waste by 21 % in just five years. Their prediction says the number of E-waste might be double by 2030.
Tokyo Olympic medal project can be precedent for the world to accumulate and recycle the E-waste for better and take a step forward for saving our planet.