With environmentalists warning that the world is on the brink of climate disaster, recycling is a hot topic at the moment.
With this in mind, as Tokyo prepares for the Olympic Games in 2020, Japan’s citizens are being encouraged to donate their old mobile phones and small appliances, in the hope that it will garner enough precious metal to make all 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals.
“A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good,” said Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi.
“There’s a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment.”
As the forecast costs for the event balloon to over 15 billion euros, it is hoped that the project may save a few pennies and extract 40 kg of gold, 2,930 kg of silver and 2,994 kg of bronze.
It is also a way to make the public feel involved with the Games.
Governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike said: “We launched this project aiming to promote sustainability, as well as to enhance a sense of direct involvement in the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
And it appears to be working.
The project, which will be expanded across Japan, has already seen crowds of people queuing at collection boxes to donate their old mobile phones.
“As a resident of Tokyo, the thought that something from my home will become parts of the medals gets me really excited for these Olympic Games,” said 18-year-old Tokyo resident Hiroki Yamashita.
Although further details need to be fleshed out, it is known that the project will end once eight tonnes of old phones and appliances are collected.
Japan did well in Rio last year, taking home 41 medals. Unfortunately they cannot be donated to the cause, so old mobiles will have to do instead.