In early 2017, organizers of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games announced ambitious plans to make all of the Olympic medals out of materials reclaimed from recycled e-waste.
In total, the committee said that it would require two metric tonnes (each) of gold, silver, and the materials to make bronze in order to create the 5,000 medals for the Olympians who make the podium in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games.
It was a novel idea that would harvest gold and silver from consumer electronic devices like old tablets and smartphones, and materials such as copper from scrap cars and home appliances.
Organizers still have about 2.5 years until the games kick off on July 24, 2020, but participation for the project has so far been very low.
According to a recent report, project organizers asked local governments to install recycling boxes to collect the old electronics. While 70 percent of Japan's municipalities said that they would contribute, participation has waned. It turns out that the Olympic committee's good intentions didn't anticipate an individual's apprehension in donating a device that might still store personal information — or existing contracts that cities had with sanitation companies.
To try and boost collection efforts, officials have sent out recycling boxes to all cities, villages, and towns across the country.
Officials did not comment on whether or not they would still be able to hit e-waste goals in time to create the medals for the games.