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  • Japan was able to produce 32kg of gold, 3,492kg silver and approximately 2200kg of bronze from nearly 80 tonnes of electronic devices, which then went into the crafting of the glittering Olympic medals.
  • The task was not simple as it involved thousands of hours of extraction followed by the precious metals being moulded into Junichi Kawnishi's design concept.

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games conducted the "Tokyo 2020 Medal Project" to collect small electronic devices such as used mobile phones from all over Japan to produce the Olympic and Paralympic medals.

In the two years between April 2017 and March 2019, 100 per cent of the metals required to manufacture the approximately 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals were extracted from small electronic devices contributed by people from all over Japan.

Every medal being awarded to athletes during the Games is made from recycled metals.

The Japanese government had to launch a two-year nationwide campaign to collect ample recycled material for the production of 5,000 bronze, silver, and gold medals for the Tokyo Olympics, which commenced on July 23.

While the concept of making medals from discarded laptops, mobile phones and other electronic commodities is not new, the Japanese took it to an altogether different level, enlisting the support of nearly 90 per cent of the country's cities, towns and villages.

In the end, the country was able to produce 32kg of gold, 3,492kg silver and approximately 2200kg of bronze from nearly 80 tonnes of electronic devices, which then went into the crafting of the glittering Olympic medals.

During the Rio 2016 Olympics, about 30 per cent of the gold and silver for the medals came from recycled material extracted from car parts and mirror surfaces.

The Tokyo 2020 project enlisted, among other sectors, municipal corporations, companies, schools and local communities across the country.

"The campaign called on the public to donate obsolete electronic devices for the project," Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Hitomi Kamizawa was quoted as saying by dw.com. "We are grateful for everyone's cooperation."

In April 2017 after months of planning, the project was launched with great fanfare, with the Japanese government posting a two-minute video of the process -- from collection of discarded electronic goods, separation of precious metals and the final crafting of the medals -- on the completion of the project in 2019.

"The #Tokyo2020 Medal Project aims towards an innovative future for the world. From April 2017 to March 2019, small electronic devices including mobile phones were collected to produce the Olympic and Paralympic medals," the Tokyo 2020 organisers had tweeted following the successful completion of the project.

Renet Japan Group devised a "waste management movement" for the production of the medals.

"We developed a waste management movement for the medal project with the cooperation of many stakeholders, from the Japanese government to local communities," said Toshio Kamakura, director of Renet Japan Group.

The task was not simple as it involved thousands of hours of extraction followed by the precious metals being moulded into Junichi Kawnishi's design concept.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo 2020 organisers made an interesting observation about their medals -- which have been made by extracting precious metals from discarded mobile phones and laptops -- and within minutes the tweet had gone viral.

The organisers posted a picture of an athlete smiling and biting her gold medal, and wrote, "We just want to officially confirm that the #Tokyo2020 medals are not edible! Our medals are made from material recycled from electronic devices donated by the Japanese public.

"So, you don't have to bite them... but we know you still will (Face with tongue) #UnitedByEmotion," read the tweet.

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