This is Huge: Medals For The 2020 Tokyo Olympics Are Made From Recycled Smartphones

As far as Olympic medals go, the medals for the 2020 Olympic Games aren’t all too dissimilar to previous years. I mean, the big hunks of gold, silver and bronze are still round, still shiny, and they’re still representative of immeasurable athletic success I’ll never be capable of.


But the medals for the Tokyo Games are representative of much more than just sporting triumph. These chunks of metal are manufactured from recycled smartphones and small electronic devices which were collected from the Japanese public over a period of 2 years. Crafted by Japanese designer, Junichi Kawanishi following an open competition, over 5 thousand medals have recycled close to 6.21 million used mobile phones to create some seriously beautiful hunks of shiny metal.

The actual design of the medal has a pretty heartwarming meaning, too. According to the designer, each medal is crafted to resemble rough stones that have been newly polished, and now “shine with light and brilliance”. Much like previous years, the medals also depict the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, standing in front of the Panathinaikos Stadium.

Currently Less Than 1% Of Smartphones Are Recycled

Considering ICT products will soon represent over 14% of the Earth’s entire carbon footprint by 2040, these medals act as a beacon of environmental awareness at a time when we really need it. Smartphone manufacturing is like a monstrous, resource-eating devil.

Building a new smartphone, especially mining the rare materials they require to function, make up almost 95% of the device’s total carbon emissions for a whole 2 years. To give you a little context, that essentially means buying one new iPhone takes as much energy as recharging and using an existing iPhone for an entire decade. Ugh. 

I’m excited to see what other kinds of unexpected projects are in the works. Finally this is some positive environmental news I can get around.

Sources: Tokyo 2020, Giphy. 

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