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Japan begins Olympic-sized precious metal recycling plan

Published Wednesday 8th February 2017

People in Japan are being asked to donate their old mobile phones and tablets to provide the metal needed to make the medals for the 2020 Olympic Games.

The collections will start in April with an ambitious target of collecting eight tonnes each of gold, silver and bronze to be converted into 5,000 medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in three years time.

It's not the first time that recycled gold has been stripped to use in medals; around 30 per cent of the metal used in the medals at last year's Rio Games was recycled. However, this is the first time that organisers have made a commitment to source all of the metal needed for the medals in this way. Special collection points are being set up at more than 2,000 shops where people can leave old phones, digital cameras, games units, tablets and laptops to be stripped of the gold, silver and copper in their circuitry.

Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi said: "A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good. There's a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment."

The idea is both to become more sustainable and to cut costs. Traditionally, mining companies donate towards the medals but Japan does not have its own precious metals mines.

We may not be offering you the chance to turn your old and unwanted gold and silver jewellery into an Olympic medal, but we are offering you something more substantive a cash return. And with gold prices continuing to perform well, the scrap metal price that you receive will reflect that too.

So be inspired by the recyclers of Japan and seek out any old, broken or unwanted gold jewellery that you may have tucked away and convert it into something new.