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Do Discarded Electronic Devices Have Any Value?

When athletes win gold, silver, and bronze at the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, organizers hope that the coveted medals they take home will be made entirely of recycled metal. Beginning in April 2017, consumers will be asked to drop off old smartphones and other electronic devices at more than 2,400 locations around Japan. The goal is to collect enough devices to extract 2 tons of precious metal -- enough to make 5,000 medals.

Host countries have used recycled materials before. The silver and bronze medals awarded at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were made from 30 percent recycled metal, mostly reclaimed from mirrors, solder, and X-ray plates. And at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the medals consisted of 1.5 percent recycled materials.

Metal, medals, and mettle:

  • The last Olympic gold medal to be made from 100 percent gold was awarded in 1912.

  • At the 1896 Olympic Games, the winners were awarded silver medals, while the runners-up got bronze medals.

  • The specific composition and design of medals is determined by the host city's organizing committee, but there are Olympic standards. For example, medals must be at least .12 inches (3 mm) thick and at least 2.36 inches (60 mm) in diameter.

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More Info: Japan Times

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