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Japan to Make 2020 Olympics Medals From Recycled Phones

When athletes stand atop their podiums at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, their sparkling gold, silver and bronze medals will all share a special ingredient – recycled mobile phones.

Since 2014, the Olympic Committee has been pushing forward a more sustainable agenda in the face of a growing global consciousness of climate change. To that end, Recommendation 4 of Olympic Agenda 2020, also issued that year, calls for those involved with the games to:

Develop a sustainability strategy to enable potential and actual Olympic Games organisers to integrate and implement sustainability measures that encompass economic, social and environmental spheres in all stages of their project.

According to Popular Mechanics, the elements typically used to forge the medals are sourced via contracts with mining corporations.

Japan’s Olympic Committee will begin a collection drive at local telecommunications and local offices starting in April, reports CNN. The goal is to collect enough phones to yield eight tons of elements that can be processed into the two tons needed to mint the Games’ 5,000 medals.

"A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good," Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi told Popular Mechanics. "There's a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment."

Gadgets such as mobile phones can contain a number of rare elements, including gold, silver, platinum, palladium, lithium, cobalt and nickel. While initiatives like the above are a positive recycling story, the breaking down of consumer electronics has become a global environmental issue and a pressing problem in Asia

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