Interactive graphic shows the design of the medals for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, highlighting how they were sourced from recycled materials.
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TOKYO 2020

The Tokyo Olympics recycled medals

By Ben Mullins

July 24, 2020 - August 9, 2020 - The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games medals are made from recycled small electronic devices, gathered over a two year period from April 2017 to March 2019.

Municipal authorities collected 72,000 tonnes of small electronic waste from households right across Japan, while NTT Docomo (the predominant mobile phone operator) collected around six million old and unwanted handsets from members of the public.

The devices were then painstakingly dismantled so that tiny amounts of rare metals could be extracted before being refined and made ready for smelting. The final harvest includes 32kg of gold, 3,500kg of silver and 2,200kg of bronze (95% copper and 5% zinc).

Graphic designer Junichi Kawanishi won a nationwide competition to design the medals which he says symbolise the energy of athletes, the diversity of the games, and the warm glow of friendship.

Even the ribbon has been carefully considered, with its colours added through the addition of CO₂-friendly chemically-recycled polyester fibres.

PUBLISHED: 29/01/2020; STORY: Graphic News
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