The medals for the Tokyo Olympics are here, and there’s more to these stunning pieces of gold, silver, and bronze than even meets the eye. The medals — which are molded to look like polished stones, symbolizing the work athletes put in, day after day, in order to shine — are completely sustainable.
It was first reported in February 2019 that the organizing committee was on track to manufacture the medals from 100 percent recycled materials. When the committee stopped collecting donations in March, it had met its goal to amass 30.3 kg of gold, 4,100 kg of silver, and 2,700 kg of bronze, predominantly from used consumer electronics such as laptops and cell phones.
It’s an incredible feat, bolstered by a sense of community that feels very much in the spirit of the Games. “This project will be an exercise in citizen participation to manufacture medals with the help of people from across Japan,” the website for the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project read. “The idea of using recycled metals in medals has been used in the past. However, this project makes Tokyo 2020 a first in the history of the Olympics and Paralympics by involving citizens in the collection of consumer electronics for the purpose of manufacturing medals.”
The project emphasizes sustainability in a way never before seen at the Olympics. While the silver and bronze medals at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro contained 30 percent recycled metal, Tokyo has manufactured roughly 5,000 medals exclusively from recycled materials — a fitting tribute to an increased public interest in the environment and to Japanese innovation alike. We can’t wait to see what else the host country has in store.
To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23 on NBC.