Ever wondered what you can do with your dead phones? Aside from using the phone to distract or keep babies busy, or as a decoy for carjackers and pickpockets in Lagos traffic? Turns out, old phones are literal gold mines in the hands of those with the know-how. Let us see how the Olympic gold medals for Tokyo 2020 were mined.
Precious Minerals in Small Doses
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 0.034 grams of gold in each cell phone. That’s the equivalent of 0.001 troy ounces, 16 grams of copper, 0.35 grams of silver, and 0.00034 grams of platinum, valued at 2 cents.
Typically, every cell phone consists of around 40% metals (predominantly copper, gold, platinum, silver, and tungsten), 40% plastics, and 20% ceramics and trace materials.
In Japan, the Tokyo planning committee saw this as an opportunity to recycle dead phones and to put them to use. They started a medal-making campaign four years ago. The LOC asked citizens to donate their dead phones and gadgets, which were later transformed into the 2020 Olympic medals. Impressive right?
Also, recycled materials were used in the creation of other elements used in the Olympics – the victory-ceremony podiums and touch bearers’ uniforms were made from recycled plastics and plastic bottles.
With Love From Tokyo
So, the Tokyo Olympics Local Organizing Committee has taken recycling to a whole new level, and we would love to see this initiative emulated here in Nigeria.
We must caution, however, that the amount of gold found in a cell phone, is worth about $1.82 (N900.00) at today’s prices. So no, it’s not likely to turn anybody rich overnight. Or over several years even, given the amount of work that will go into sourcing and processing the old phones. Hence it took so long for the Olympic gold medals for Tokyo 2020.
Having said that, a recycling program to encourage local participation should include incentives; not unlike what the Lagos state government is doing with the waste plastics collectors.
So, next time, instead of dumping that old phone or gadget, give it up for recycling. That way, we have less waste in our environment and more manufactured products like medals, jewelry, etc. It’s not just about phones and gadgets. It’s about everything like pure water sachets, plastic bottles, fabrics, old cables, etc.
Recycling it seems, is golden. Or at least, it can be.