Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Tokyo strikes gold with e-waste in Olympics

Tokyo strikes gold with e-waste in Olympics

Almost 50,000 tons of devices, including cameras, games consoles and laptops, plus more than five million smartphones, were collected for the Old Metals New Medals project across Japan over 18 months since it opened.

In April 2017, the organising committee launched an initiative to recoup unwanted electronic devices with companies across Japan, as well as athletes and the general public, lending their support to the drive.

It is estimated that the remaining amounts of metals required to manufacture all Olympic and Paralympic medals can be extracted from the devices already donated.

Collection centers were set up across 1,594 municipalities, where around 47,488 tons of discarded gadgetry were dumped as of November past year.

The targeted amount of bronze, some 2,700 kilograms, was already extracted from these by June of past year.


Organisers had set a target of 2,700 kgs (about 5,950 pounds) of bronze, 30.3 kgs (67 pounds) of gold and 4,100 kg (about 9,040 pounds) of silver.

The project has offered the public an opportunity to play an important role in the Games' preparations. For instance, the committee notes, "The small electronic devices donated by people across Japan will be classified and dismantled and by contractors accredited in line with the government's Act on Promotion of Recycling of Small Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment".

Bach joined Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike at an event billed at demonstrating the sustainability of the Games.

The project ends on March 31st, with the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic showing its medal designs sometime in the summer.

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