Japan is fed up with climate change, and prepared to take a stand. For the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, they’re making the gold, green.
With the public’s help, the Japanese are creating a new Olympic event: recycling. That’s right. Japan is recycling smartphones and other electronics, with the intention of transforming the precious metals inside these devices into medals for the Olympics.
Going for the Green?
The Japanese have always been known for their ingenuity, and this tech-happy country has once again delivered. When you’re at the forefront of technological trends, devices become obsolete very quickly.
This has led to the consumer culture where you need the newest phone, laptop, etc. It’s not like there’s anything wrong with the old one. It’s just, well, old.
Japanese officials look to take advantage of this trend, and are asking the public to help in the Olympic effort.
They’re asking for people to donate their old smartphones into collection bins across the country. The devices in these bins are being recycled, and will one day be worn around the necks of Olympic athletes.
The Gold Lining
While officials are only really concerned with the gold in phones, there are a myriad of other rare and precious metals tucked away in your phone.
You’ve literally got a gold mine in your pocket.
Well, not exactly.
According to BBC, there’s roughly $1.25 worth of gold in every smartphone. Calm down. That’s not nearly enough gold to justify destroying your new $850 smartphone.
These metals are critical in the functioning of electronics. Gold is a great conductor of electricity, meaning it allows electrical currents to pass through without generating a lot of heat. Which is a good thing, unless you like exploding phones.
The Gold Mine of the Olympics
As the law of supply and demand states, the higher the smartphone demand, the more smartphone that are produced.
A recent report stated that 2 billion people have access to smartphones.
With an average upgrade cycle of 11 months, there will soon be billions of phones rotting in landfills, with their precious metals potentially lost forever.
And it’s not as if these resources are unlimited; as access to technology continues to become easier, it’s going to lead to more waste. It’s a vicious cycle which ultimately ends with the depletion of said resources.
The Japanese Olympic officials were able to realize this: If they couldn’t change the course of technology, they would change the way people think about it.
If anything, the Japanese people have a love/hate relationship with tech. On the one hand, progress is great. On the other, there is a growing awareness of the environmental dangers of such fast technological innovation.
As the Japanese people grew more and more conscious about their carbon footprint, the officials looked to capitalize on this wave of newfound environmentalism. Now, the 2020 symbol for worldwide pride will be composed of recycled metals.
From Metal to Medal
The organizing committee is looking to collect at least 8 metric tons (about 17, 600 lbs) of gold, silver, and bronze from recycling bins across the nation.
Not too bad, right?
Considering there’s .034 grams of gold per smartphone and .35 grams of silver, it’s a huge undertaking.
If you weren’t able to do the math in your head, that’s about a quarter of a billion smartphones.
235,294,117 phones to be exact.
From these 235 million phones, 5,000 medals for the Olympics and the Paralympics will be created. And all of Japan will now feel more connected to the games and medal ceremonies.
Whether or not their ambitious goal of 8 metric tons will be reached, it’s going to be interesting seeing the world’s best athletes going for green (and gold).
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