The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
The Games’ utilization of waste will be passed on as a legacy.
The Olympics that created a breakthrough in action for the environment
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games recently came to a close. Many Japanese athletes took part and fought many close contests to win a record 58 medals, made up of 27 gold, 14 silver, and 17 bronze. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics also drew attention for another record – a world-first environmental initiative that reused various waste materials to make equipment and other items for use in the Games. The Olympic medals were among those items. From 2017 to 2019, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games ran the two-year Tokyo 2020 Medal Project, which sought the public’s help in gathering material from the nation’s “urban mines.” It collected disused cell phones, hair dryers, irons and other home appliances and extracted metal from them to make the medals.
The potential of dormant resources from an “urban mine”
Collection boxes were set up at various locations to collect unwanted electrical appliances. The project succeeded in collecting 100% of the metal needed to make a total of about 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals for the Olympic and Paralympic award ceremonies. This was a first in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. These activities were based on the keyword of “urban mines” (useful resources contained in used products) that lie dormant in Japan. It is said that the reserves of these “urban mines” surpass those of the world’s natural mines. The use of recycled metals to produce medals is seen as a groundbreaking approach in the holding of a sustainable Olympics.
Other Olympic equipment made from reused materials
Another first in the history of the Games was that the podiums used in medal presentation ceremonies were made of recycled plastic. Approximately 24.5 tons of plastic was collected at stores and schools all over Japan. The manufacturing process utilized 3D printers and Japan’s advanced technology of mass producing parts from recycled plastic. President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Seiko Hashimoto, said the podium “has become a symbolic initiative in the creation of a sustainable society. “Mr. Asao Tokolo, who designed the podium and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic logos, said, “the fact that material that would normally be disposed of as trash, through research into materials and advanced modern technology, has been made into podiums that can withstand people stepping on them is indeed a testament to the connections among various people and the result of their effort. “The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was an epoch-making event in terms of the large-scale practical use of reusable resources at an international event. It was also an opportunity that made the public more aware of the problem of waste. There are also high hopes that this activity will be passed on as a legacy to future host countries as they aim to realize sustainable Olympic Games.