The new Olympic medals might be made from recycled smartphones

Maya DiRado medalsHarry How/GettySwimmer, Maya DiRado of the United States poses for a photo with her four medals.

The medals for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo may be made from an unlikely source: discarded smartphones.

According to Nikkei Asian Review’s Ken Sakakibara, Japan’s “urban mine” is home to millions of smartphones and other discarded electronics. That mine contains enough precious metals to create all the gold, silver, and bronze medals necessary for the Olympic and Paralympic games in 2020.

Olympic organisers have already come up with a plan, first discussed in June, according to The Verge, to craft the 2020 Olympic medals from the discarded device internals.

The amount of gold, silver and copper sitting in that mine is staggering: the report claims that in 2014, 143kg of gold, 1,566kg of silver, and 1,112 tons of copper were recovered from electronic waste in Japan. Compared to the 9.6kg of gold, 1,210kg of silver and 700kg of copper used to produce the 962 medals awarded in the 2012 London Olympic Games, Japan is sitting on more than enough materials to produce the medals.

Head over to Nikkei Asian Review for more on how Japan plans to recycle its massive trove of electronic waste for the Tokyo games.

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