53 million tons. That's the amount of electronic waste (e-waste) produced globally every year. The host country of this year's Olympics decided not only to use the platform to highlight the issue but also do something about it. To make this year's Olympic medals, they used tonnes of e-waste.
Called 'Tokyo 2020 Medal Project', the organizing committee of the Olympics in Japan conducted a drive to collect electronic waste such as phones from across the country. It roped in athletes, students at universities, and even reached out to the public at large to donate small and no longer in use electronic devices.
A total of 78,985 tons of e-waste was collected comprising of 6.21 million used phones. The e-waste was then classified and dismantled by government-approved contractors, in accordance with local laws on recycling electrical and electronic equipment.
Metallic elements were melted and then refined. At the end of the process, 70 lbs (32 kg) of gold, 7716 lbs (3500 kg) of silver, and 4850 lbs (2250 kg) of bronze were recovered from the collected waste which would be used to make 2500 medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Apart from medals, Japan also recycled tonnes of plastic waste to build podiums for the Olympics ceremonies.
Japan is also keen to dub its Games as the “Hydrogen Olympics” in an effort to showcase a fuel of the future, which doesn’t produce any carbon emissions when combusted and can be produced using renewable power, as reported in OGN's Sunday Magazine.