BY: Michelle Liew
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics has gone underway for two weeks and we have witnessed amazing performances from impressive athletes all over the world.
Restrained with lockdowns, Malaysians look forward to switching on the TV and watching the Olympic games.
Recently, hometown heroes Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik bagged Malaysia’s first medal- the bronze medal- at the badminton men’s doubles tournament, defeating World No. 2 pair Mohamad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.
With the hype going on with medals, did you know that the gold, silver and bronze medals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were made completely using recycled electronic devices that were sent through donation by people across Japan? Yes, you read that right. Japan has become the first ever country to manufacture its Olympics and Paralympics medals using 100% recycled materials.
Its predecessors Brazil adapted a similar concept for the 2016 Rio Olympics, but their silver and bronze medals only featured 30% recycled material.
The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) planned the process with great detail. They set up a nationwide initiative called the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project between April 2017 to March 2019. Collection points were set up all over Japan at post offices and even sidewalks so that people would be able to donate their old devices. There were 2,400 participating stores nationwide.
Through the initiative, they managed to collect 6.21 million used electrical devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, laptops and handheld game consoles. This allowed for the production of 5,000 medals. The e-waste collected was able to produce approximately 32kg of gold, 3,500kg of silver and 2,200 kg of bronze.
Qualified contractors dismantled and classified the devices. Smelting contractors then extracted the gold, silver and bronze elements. The medals were subsequently designed according to the designs presented by Junichi Kawanishi. His concept was selected out of 400 entries in a contest which was organised by Tokyo 2020.
The Tokyo Organising Committee will also be neutralising carbon emissions generated by the 2020 Olympics through its carbon offset programmed. Over 200 Japanese businesses will be donating 4.38 tonnes of carbon credits to the Olympics between July 2018 and September 2020.
Japan has set a great example in utilising greener options to achieve sustainability. Great job, Japan!