At Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games, winners will receive gleaming gold, silver, and bronze medals–just as they always do. But thanks to an incredible initiative taking place across Japan, their precious metals will have a thoughtful heritage: They’ve been painstakingly mined from small electronics, which are mini vaults full of rare ores.
The Medal Project first kicked off in April 2017, inviting Japanese municipalities to collect e-waste for the Olympics. That plan said that phones and other small electronics would be collected locally. NTT Docomo–the country’s largest mobile phone operator–also collected devices in stores. Government-approved contractors dismantled the devices, and smelted the metals into an aggregate pile.
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