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Turning E-Waste into Olympic Medals

8/29/16 9:03 AM

The 2016 Rio Summer Games may have just ended, but preparations are already underway for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. However, Japan is running into a major problem, the country lacks its own mineral resources for making medals. With four years to go before athletes head to Tokyo, Japan's Olympic organizing committee is considering using electronic waste to salvage precious metals.

Traditionally, host cities obtain the metal from local mining firms, then must follow the criteria set by the International Olympic Committee on how the medals should be made. Since mining is scarce in Japan, the country hopes to extract metals from discarded smartphones, tablets, etc. Although Olympic medals have never been made from 100% recycled materials, the silver and bronze medals for the Rio Olympics were produced using 30% of reclaimed metals.

Japan has one of the highest recycling rates in Asia, but is it possible to collect enough to make more than 5,000 medals in the next four years? Around 650,000 tons of small electronics and appliances are thrown out every year in Japan, but less than 100,000 tons is actually collected for recycling. The amount of metals needed will all depend on the size and numbers of medals needed, especially with five new sports added to the 2020 competition. If Japan is given the green light to produce medals using e-waste, the country will most likely have to reach out to companies and other countries to contribute to the effort.

Once the metals are extracted from the recycled electronics, they are melted down then cast into the desired shape. For high temperature manufacturing MadgeTech offers data loggers that can be used in extremely harsh environments. Used in conjunction the ThermoVault Max thermal barrier, the HiTemp140-M12 data logger can withstand temperatures up to +400 °C.

For more information or help finding the perfect data logging system to meet your needs, call MadgeTech specialist at (603) 456-2011, or email [email protected].

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Posted in: Manufacturing / Equipment Monitoring, Asia, By:

MadgeTech Marketing Team