As the saying goes: One man’s trash is another man’s reward for devoting his life to excellence in sport.

Remember that bread-maker you got a couple years ago because you were really getting into baking and planned to be completely self-sufficient with all bread-related matters? Sure, you didn’t do anything with it in the end, but you might be comforted to know that that cumbersome appliance can now be used to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of a young athlete who beat the odds and climbed their way to the world stage of athletics.

That’s right! Japan’s Ministry of Environment is currently teaming up with local governments to collect used appliances and electronics so that any gold, silver, or copper can be used to forge the medals for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

▼ 2020 medal designs

Until recently, the ministry had set up collection spots at places such as post offices and NTT Docomo stores gathering people’s old electronic goods with an eye for smartphones in particular. However, according to their haul up until June, there won’t be enough silver to fill the quota of roughly 5,000 medals needed for the Olympic and Paralympic games.

The silver situation is especially severe because it is the most required metal and found in very small quantities in electronics such as phones. The total amount of raw metal to produce all the medals is as follows:

The reason so much silver is needed is because the gold medals are actually silver on the inside. So whenever you talk about the games two years from now, remember to annoy those around you by always referring to the “gold medals” as “gold-plated silver medals.”

The ministry’s goal of obtaining all the necessary metal by 2019 is on track for both gold and copper, but in order to step up the silver collection they are expanding collection sites to include public schools across the country. In addition to getting the necessary materials, it is hoped that this move will help get students and parents excited for the coming games.

It certainly worked with people on the Internet, where the excitement was palpable.


At least, I’m assuming all that laughter is a product of unbridled enthusiasm for the 2020 Olympics. Others, however, were more cynical about the Environment Ministry’s strategy.

“Buy it, ya cheapskates!”
“Maybe they can make the medals out of origami.”
“With the money they’re spending on collecting the silver, can’t they just buy it?”
“Guess they’re trying to reign in that out-of-control budget.”
“We have to donate scrap metal? Are we at war now?”

Perhaps thinking outside the box is needed to solve this dilly of a pickle. First, we should ask ourselves if those three medals are really needed, especially since we already established the gold isn’t even gold.

I’m not saying aluminum, or even the slightly fancier aluminium, as that would still be clinging to the past, and appear as though we are admitting defeat. No, we need to come at these winners with something completely unexpected and unique like 3,500 pieces of hard candy with their faces on it or giant robots.

Who wouldn’t want a giant robot?

Source: Nikkei Shimbun, Kinisoku
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: SoraNews24