For the first time, Olympic medals will be produced entirely from recycled electronic devices. (Image source: Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee)
The medals awarded to victorious athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games are special—not just because the symbolize athletic prowess and excellence, but also because the gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to the athletes are being manufactured entirely from recycled materials.
The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games conducted the “Tokyo 2020 Medal Project” to collect small electronic devices such as used mobile phones from all over Japan. This project makes Tokyo 2020 the first in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to involve citizens and to manufacture the 5,000 required medals using recycled metals.
The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project also included a medal design competition that invited the public to submit design ideas for the medals. The winning medal was designed by Junichi Kawanishi.
The project brought in 78,895 tons of electronic devices—including 6.21 million mobile phones. Both the gold and silver medals are made entirely from pure silver, though the former uses more than six grams of gold plating on top of the silver base. The bronze medals are made from a red brass alloy, which is 95 percent copper and five percent zinc.
According to a news release by the Tokyo Organizing Committee, “The approximately 5,000 medals in total have now been produced from the small electronic devices that were contributed from people all over Japan. We hope that our project to recycle small consumer electronics and our efforts to contribute to an environmentally friendly and sustainable society will become a legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals
Thinnest part: 7.7mm
Gold: about 556g
Gold: more than 6 grams of gold plating on pure silver
Attached to the top of medals
Side of Medal
The name of the event will be engraved in English
Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.
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