The medals for the current Olympic Games were made using discarded cell phones and other recycled consumer electronics

Here’s the First Look at Tokyo’s Medals For the 2020 Olympics Games, Made from Recycled Electronics
Credit: Tokyo 2020

The Tokyo Olympics have a unique set of prizes that will raise awareness for recycling.

The International Olympic Committee explained in a statement released back in 2019 — before the Games postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic — that each medal crafted for the Tokyo Olympics was made from metal obtained from recycled consumer electronics over the previous two years.

It was all thanks to a recycling initiative deemed the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project, which was a part of the country's goal to make the Olympics the "most environmentally friendly and sustainable Games so far."

The initiative saw more than 1,300 educational institutions and 2,100 electronic stores donate electronic waste to the effort, the IOC said, while donation boxes were placed all over the country to collect anyone who wanted to donate.

"A total of 78,985 tons of discarded devices were collected," their statement read, "a haul which included approximately 6.21 million used mobile phones, along with digital cameras, handheld games and laptops, all of which were then classified, dismantled and melted down by highly trained contractors."

The project carries on a tradition seen in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where silver and bronze medals were made from 30 percent recycled materials.

In the press release, the IOC debuted the designs for the medals' ribbons and a circular metal box made from Japanese ash that incases them. The designs on the medals were submitted by Junichi Kawanishi, director of the Japan Sign Design Association and the Osaka Design Society.

"It is a great honor that my design was selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medal," Kawanishi said in a statement. "I never dreamed that the design I submitted only as a memorial to this lifetime event would actually be selected.

"With their shining rings, I hope the medals will be seen as paying tribute to the athletes' efforts, reflecting their glory and symbolizing friendship," Kawanishi added.

"I am convinced that Japanese metal molding techniques and the superb design have combined well and that we have the best medal in the world — one that we can be proud of," added Ryohei Miyata, the chair of Tokyo 2020's medal design selection committee, according to CNN.

"There is also a beautiful balance between the design of the medals and their ribbons. It makes me want to strive for a medal myself," Miyata continued.

The Summer Olympics kicked off on Friday after the year delay, with the Opening Ceremony being held at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium.

To learn more about Team USA, visit Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.