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Fun on Friday: 2020 Olympic Athlete Will Compete for…E-Waste?

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So athletes in the 2020 Olympics are going to be competing for junk.

No joke. The medals for the Tokyo games will be made entirely out of recycled e-waste.

According to a little blurb published by the Silver Institute in its most recent edition of Silver News, the folks planning for the 2020 Olympics have collected enough silver, gold and bronze (copper and tin) from e-waste to make all of the medals for the games.

It’s mostly silver. Yes – gold medal winners get hosed. According to Olympic Committee rules, gold medals must contain a minimum of 6 grams of gold. That’s it. They’re primarily made of silver. As it turns out, there really isn’t that much difference between first and second place.

Anyway, the Japanese have collected 9,000 pounds of silver, 67 pounds of gold and 6,000 pounds of bronze. That’s a pretty impressive haul considering they basically just got people to donate their broken down electronic devices. The Olympic planning committee put collection boxes in over 2,400 NTT Docomo phone stores as well as other locations throughout Japan. It took them about two years to collect the 5 million busted up pieces of junk. But as it turns out, broken phones contain a payday – about $3 million worth of metal.

According to the Silver Institute, the typical mobile phone contains 90 mg of silver, 36 mg of gold, 0.7 grams of tin and 6 grams of copper.

These amounts were recently verified by scientists at the University of Plymouth in southwest England. I think they might have been bored because they dropped mobile phones into laboratory blenders. Now, they tell us that this was a “scientific experiment” to extract and weigh the metal components. But you know it really went down more like this.

“Hey Randy, dare me to drop Lynette’s phone in a blender?”

“I’ll buy you a beer if ya do it!”

“OK!”

Grrrrrrrriiiiinnnnndddddd!

And viola! Science!

So, anyway, the greatest athletes in the world are going to be competing for e-waste.

That sounds kind of pathetic, doesn’t it? But it actually underscores one of the characteristics that make gold and silver ideal for money. They are immutable. That’s a fancy-pants way of saying you can’t destroy it. It’s durable. By the time the medal-making folks in Japan get finished processing the e-waste silver and gold, it will be as pure as the day it was originally extracted from the ore.

Now, Olympic hardware probably doesn’t matter much to most you. I suspect nobody reading this will be competing for one of these junk medals. If you are, please shoot me an email! But you know, you can still get your hands on gold and silver. Just call 1-888-GOLD-160 and talk to one of our fine SchiffGold precious metals specialists.  They’ll hook you up. No extraordinary athletic feat required!

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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About The Author

Michael Maharrey is the managing editor of the SchiffGold blog, and the host of the Friday Gold Wrap Podcast and It's Your Dime interview series.
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