The smartphone industry is moving rapidly with multiple new phones announced each year from different manufacturers around the world. People are constantly discarding their old smartphones and changing to new ones, so what do you do with all the electronic waste? According to reports, Japan wish to use these waste to make medals for the next Olympic Games, which will be held in Tokyo in the year 2020.
Nikkei Asian Review reports that the Olympic organisers, government officials and executives have been discussing this move since June, with hopes that it will help raise awareness around e-waste. Japan is poor in natural resources, but it has a large “urban mine”. According to the report, its mine for gold and silver found in small consumer electronics is equivalent to 16% and 22% of the world’s total reserves respectively, which should be enough to produce Olympic medals. The report says that in the 2012 Olympic Games, they used 9.6kg of gold, 1,210kg of silver and 700kg of copper. In 2014, Japan recovered 143kg of gold, 1,566kg of silver and 1,112 tons of copper from discarded devices.
This will definitely help with the ever-growing e-waste. Nikkei writes that about 650,000 tons of electronics are discarded in Japan every year, only 100,000 tons are collected under a system based on the recycling law. They hope that the move to use recycled parts to make Olympic medals will help raise public awareness and encourage more people and even companies to recycle.
“In order for all Japanese people to participate in the Tokyo Olympics, we are asking companies to propose a concrete collection proposal and would like to work with the Olympic organising committee to realise the proposal.” – Yuko Sakita from the NGO Genki Net for Creating a Sustainable Society.