Tokyo 2020 is on track to create Olympic medals with recycled electronics

“Congratulations, you’re one of the most elite athletes to have ever graced planet Earth. Here’s a broken iPhone 4s and part of an old Game Boy Advance for your troubles.”

OK, so that’s not exactly the sales pitch that the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, aka Tokyo 2020, is probably going for — but it’s not far from the truth, either. And that’s a good thing.

Announced on Friday, February 8, the brains behind next year’s Summer Olympics revealed that they are on target to be able to forge all winning athletes’ medals from recycled electronics waste, consisting of discarded and obsolete electronic devices. This includes smartphones, digital cameras, handheld games consoles, and laptops.

The project to collect ewaste for the purpose was launched in Japan in April 2017, with thousands of collection centers established across the country. In all, some 47,488 tons of discarded devices have been collected by municipal authorities in Japan, in addition to more than 5 million used cell phones. By June 2018, the target amount of metal necessary for creating the Olympics bronze medals had already been gathered. By October 2018, so too had 93.7 percent of the necessary gold and 85.4 percent of silver. That puts the project firmly on track to achieve its goal.

Recycling electronics waste into Olympic medals isn’t going to solve the problem completely, of course. Other bolder initiatives will need to be launched to stop so many landfill-bound gadgets being disposed of every year to begin with. This could take the form of everything from legislation to insist on repairable devices to a more unorthodox concept such as Rice University’s research into the possibility of biodegradable, eco-friendly wooden electronics capable of decomposing once they are disposed of.

Nonetheless, this is a great attention-grabbing initiative that highlights the importance of electronics waste recycling, and shows that great things can be achieved with the proper public efforts. It’s pretty fitting, too: Shouldn’t the Olympic Games be about showing off humankind at its very best? We can’t think of too many better ways to do that.

The Tokyo 2020 medals will be publicly unveiled in the middle of 2019. You can color us excited to see them!


Google’s Stadia is the future of gaming, and that’s bad news for our planet

Google’s upcoming Stadia cloud gaming service, and its competitors, are ready to change the way gamers play, but in doing so they may kick off a new wave of data center growth – with unfortunate consequences for the environment.

Make some room in your backlog. Here are all the games to look out for in 2019

2019 is already a huge year for video games, with a large number of series getting new installments, including some that have been dormant for years. Brand new franchises are also being created.

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.

Did Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown fall victim to the Madden Curse?

Join us as we take a tour through the long-running history of the Madden Curse — and Tom Brady's recent accolades. We all know John Madden is a longtime NFL talent, but is he also an agent of dark forces?
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

SpaceX experiences problem during test, Crew Dragon capsule may have exploded

SpaceX has experienced a problem during the testing of its Crew Dragon capsule. During the engine test firing at Cape Canaveral yesterday afternoon, an unspecified anomaly occurred which lead to plumes of smoke rising from the test site.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.