An Olympic Games with a Sustainability Focus
Earlier this month, the 2020 Olympic Games took place in Tokyo. In total, 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries and regions competed in events from archery to wrestling. Regardless of the performance of an athlete you were rooting for or how your county performed on the medal table, one thing that stood out in these Olympic Games was the emphasis on sustainability.
Over the course of 17 days, approximately 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded, and this year, each of those medals has a unique story behind it. The gold, silver and bronze components of each medal was extracted from recycled consumer electronic devices sourced from Japan during the years leading up to the Olympic Games!
The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project was organized to raise awareness about e-waste recycling. During the campaign, the organizing committee collected almost 80,000 tons of discarded devices and more than 6 million used mobile phones. From these devices, approximately 32kg of gold, 3,500kg of silver and 2,200kg of bronze was collected.
In addition to recycling e-waste in the making of medals, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics featured other sustainability efforts:
- The Tokyo Organizing Committee used a sustainability management system developed based on the ISO 20121 standard, providing best practice to help control the social, economic and environmental impact of events.
- Olympic relay torches were manufactured using the aluminum previously used for temporary housing for survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
- The shirts and pants worn by the torchbearers were made from recycled plastic bottles.
- Beds in the Olympic Village were made from cardboard, which will be recycled. The mattresses will be recycled into plastic components.
- The 3D printed podiums where the athletes received their medals were made from recycled plastic and plastic marine debris.
- Renewable energy, rather than fossil fuel, was used to power the Athletes’ Village.
- Electric vehicles were used to transport people between venues.
While most of us will never get close to participating in the Olympics, as consumers, we should keep sustainability in mind when we’re making choices in our own lives. How can we use and reuse materials to create a circular economy?
As a business, the opportunity to reduce environmental waste is even greater. One step an organization can take to support corporate sustainability initiatives is to implement an ITAD program that focuses on reuse first, followed by responsible recycling. Many IT assets that have reached end-of-useful life within your organization can find a second life elsewhere with a bit of refurbishment. Every day, we help electronics companies leverage their IT assets and transform e-waste into remarketable products that return value to your organization. And that’s not all! Get in touch to learn more.