The 5,000 medals awarded at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo were made out of recycled materials – mostly mobile phones – as the Tokyo Organising Committee hoped to create a lasting legacy and contribute to “an environmentally friendly and sustainable society”.
The medals were crafted from more than six million reused mobile phone parts.
“The gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games not only represent the greatest honour for the athletes but also an opportunity for Japan to showcase its culture and charm to the rest of the world,” the description on the Tokyo Olympics website reads.
It was said that the process has been in the works since early 2007 when the organizing committee announced the “Tokyo 2020 Medal Project” to collect small electronic devices from all over Japan and repurpose them into medals.
Tokyo 2020 became the first in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to involve citizens in the production of medals, and to manufacture the medals using recycled medals.
The project has gathered a staggering 78,985 tonnes of electronic devices and more than 6 million mobile phones throughout 2017 and 2019.
According to Tokyo Olympics’ website, 90 per cent of the 1,741 wards, cities, towns and villages in Japan participated in the initiative.
In total, 32kg of gold, 3,500kg of silver and 2,200kg of bronze was collected from the project.
Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics had also implemented a similar method of reusing electronics – such as TVs, computers, and keyboards – to create approximately 1,000 medals.