Japan to Recycle Old Gadgets for 2020 Olympics Medals

Category : Science/Environment

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. eco-friendly / ˈɛk oʊ ˈfrɛnd li / (adj) – not causing harm to the environment

    They used eco-friendly plates, which were not made out of plastic.

  2. discarded / dɪˈskɑrd ɪd / (adj) – refers to something that has already been thrown away

    Discarded gadgets can still be recycled.

  3. finite / ˈfaɪ naɪt / (adj) – characterized as having limits

    The earth’s resources are finite.

  4. leftover / ˈlɛftˌoʊ vər / (adj) – unused

    We used some leftover materials as decorations.

  5. emit / ɪˈmɪt / (v) – to produce

    Machines that use fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide.


Read the text below.

Medals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be made from old electronic devices.

The event’s organizing committee, which plans to adopt an eco-friendly theme, is targeting to gather eight tons of gold, silver, and bronze metals from waste cans all over the country as early as April. The public can contribute to the cause by donating their discarded gadgets in offices and stores of NTT Docomo – one of the country’s major telecommunications company and an Olympics sponsor.

Metals will be taken from parts of the devices, which will be shredded, separated, and heated. According to the organizers, the gold medals will be made entirely from recycled materials in order to preserve the environment’s finite resources.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is not the first Olympics that will make use of recycled materials for medal production. In the Rio 2016 Olympics, 30% of the medals’ composition came from recycled materials, which included leftover car parts, mirrors, and x-ray plates. In addition, the ribbons were partly produced from recycled plastic bottles.

Despite efforts to protect the environment through initiatives such as recycling, the Olympics still poses a threat on the environment. For instance, planes, which transport the event participants, are expected to emit a significant amount of Carbon dioxide (CO2).

In the Rio 2016 Olympics, an estimated 3.6 million tons of CO2 were released in the environment.  Apart from CO2 emission, waste production and energy consumption are other possible negative impacts of the Olympics.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the medals will become less valuable since they are made from recycled materials? Why or why not?
• In what other ways can the organizing committee address the more serious environmental impacts of the Olympics?

Discussion B

• Do you think it is possible to hold a big event (e.g. Olympics) with very little impact on the environment? Why or why not?
• Who holds the most responsibility in how a big event affects the environment (e.g. organizers, attendees, government)?

Category : Science/Environment