The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is exactly one year away and the countdown for the opening ceremony has already begun. Hype for the world’s biggest sporting event is building up to a crescendo and the unveiling of the medals only makes it build faster.

The medals boast the classic designs that fans see every four years as stipulated by the International Olympic Committee, according to Tokyo 2020: Nike, the Greek goddess of victory; the name of the host city; and the five Olympic rings.

However, this is where the similarities with previous editions end and where the Tokyo Olympics becomes unique. It is in fact, the public input and assistance that went into the creation of the medals.

Firstly, the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games began the medal-making process with a design competition. More than 400 entries were submitted, but Japanese designer Junichi Kawanishi won the design competition. of the roughly 5,000 medals for the Games.

Once a design was set, they needed metals to create the gold, silver, and bronze prizes. Japan took a sustainable route for this: In April of 2017, they began sourcing metals from recycled and used cell phones, laptops, handheld games, and cameras for the medals.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Two years later, the public answered the call, as 78,985 tons of small electronic devices were collected from municipal authorities and around 6.21 million used mobile phones from shops across the country.

In total, around 70 pounds of gold, 7,716 pounds of silver, and 4,850 pounds of bronze were sourced from 1,621 local authorities.

All additional metal that isn’t used for the Olympic medals will be used for medals in local sports events across Japan.

Japan is planning sustainability efforts for the upcoming games. In addition to recycling metal, Tokyo 2020 will use household plastic and marine plastic waste to create podiums for the medal ceremonies, and produce Olympic Torch relay uniforms with recycled plastic bottles.