Tokyo 2020 Medals made from E-Waste
Updates 23rd August, 2019

With less than a year to go before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Organizing Committee (TOCOG) has finally unveiled the design of the medals that will grace the necks of all 5,000 winners.

After a nationwide competition in Japan, which was open to both professional designers and design students, a specially assigned selection panel combed through more than 400 entries before deciding on the ideas presented by Junichi Kawanishi, Director of the Japan Sign Design Association and the Osaka Design Society.

According to Kawanishi, the unique design reflects patterns of light in order to symbolize the energy of the athletes and those who support them. The design also represents how athletes strive for victory on a daily basis, as well as the Olympic themes of diversity and friendship.

“It is a great honor that my design was selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medal,” Kawanishi said. “I never dreamed that the design I submitted only as a memorial to this lifetime event would actually be selected. With their shining rings, I hope the medals will be seen as paying tribute to the athletes’ efforts, reflecting their glory, and symbolizing friendship.”

These medals also have something else that’s totally unique: the whole country had a hand in making them.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) explained in a statement that each and every medal crafted for the 2020 Games will be made from metal obtained from recycled consumer electronics. These electronics have been collected over the last two years in an effort to raise awareness for the importance of e-waste recycling.

It’s all due to the recycling initiative called the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project. This was a landmark recycling initiative that ensured that each medal has been molded entirely from metal extracted from recycled consumer electronics. This was just a part of Japan’s goal of making the 2020 Olympics the “most environmentally friendly and sustainable Games so far,” according to their statement.

“A total of 78,985 tons of discarded devices were collected,” the TOGOC statement reads, “a haul which included approximately 6.21 million used mobile phones, along with digital cameras, handheld games and laptops, all of which were then classified, dismantled and melted down by highly trained contractors.”

This means that the goal of collecting 30.3kg of gold, 4,100kg of silver and 2,700kg of bronze were reached by the time the collection cycle closed on March 31, 2019.

The theme of “Be better, together – for the planet and the people” attracted donations and support from 1,300 educational institutions and 2,100 electronics retail stores across Japan.

Yellow donation boxes were placed in post offices and on street corners all over the country, and a TOCOG partner encouraged the public to donate their used phones at one of their 2,400 stores nationwide.

Building Upon Tradition

This initiative carries on a tradition seen in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, where the silver and bronze medals were made from 30 percent recycled materials. However, the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project has been unique in its scale, marking the first time that a country’s citizens have been proactively involved in donating the electronic devices used to make the medals, in line with the Games’ Nationwide Participation Programmes.

And the sustainability effort doesn’t stop there. The medals are just one of many environmentally friendly programs being implemented by the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee. In their statement, they also revealed that the uniforms for the upcoming Olympic Torch Relay will be partially produced with the use of recycled plastic bottles. Additionally, the victory ceremony podiums are being made from recycled household and marine plastic waste, with the committee again leaning on the Japanese public which are contributing around 45 tons of household plastic in order to create the 100 podiums for the Games.

Apparently, E-waste management should be a nation’s top priority as of August 2019.

Rising Solar E-Waste in India?
Updates 7th August, 2019

As per a study conducted by Bridge to India (BTI), a consultant firm, India will be staring at a huge pile of solar e-waste by 2050.

In Short Details

  • The study says that due to lack of rules regarding solar cell recycling or their proper disposal by solar cell manufacturers, the country will see a huge pile of solar e-waste by 2050.
  • BTI estimated that the photovoltaic waste volume is set to grow to 200,000 tonnes by 2030 and 1.8 million tonnes by 2050.
  • India is one of the largest markets for solar cells in the world.
  • With the government’s commitment to generate  by 2022, huge investments have gone into the sector to procure solar photovoltaic cells, of which the majority are imported from countries like China.

Solar Modules

  • The solar cell modules are made by processing sand into silicon and casting silicon ingots. They are then made into cells using wafers.
  • Domestic companies majorly assemble the solar cell modules in the country.
  • The material composition of solar cells is 80% glass and aluminium, and non-hazardous materials and the remaining 20% include polymers, metallic compounds and alloys, and metals that are classified as hazardous.

Handling The Waste

  • As per the study, India is poorly positioned to handling waste from solar modules.
  • It says that, due to the lack of policy framework, even a basic handling facility for laminated glass is unavailable in the country.
  • Also, even after the framing of e-waste rules, only 4% of e-waste is being recycled in the country in the organized sector.

E-Waste Rules

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had brought out E-waste rules in 2016 replacing earlier rules of 2011.
  • In the new rules, the manufacturer, dealer, refurbisher and Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) are included as additional stakeholders.
  • Components, consumables, parts and spares of electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) have been brought under the rules.
  • The principle of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) which means the producer ensures to take-back end-of-life products has been strengthened.
  • This was done by enabling the formation of Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO), e-waste exchange, deposit refund scheme, etc.
  • The PRO will be financed collectively or individually by the producers.
  • They share the responsibility of collecting and channelizing e-waste and ensures safe handling of e-waste.
  • Electronic or electrical goods manufacturers are mandated to take back their sold products with recommended mechanisms.
  • The new rules made it mandatory for manufacturers to not cross the concentration levels of pollutants like lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury, polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers.
  • Manufacturers must provide details of the constituents of the equipment and their components along with a declaration of conformance to the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) provisions in the product user documentation.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will undertake random sampling of EEE available in the market and verify its compliance with the rules.
  • If the product is found to be in violation of the rules, it will be removed from the market within a time period specified by the CPCB.
  • For improper handling of e-waste, a penalty will be levied including the financial penalty.
  • Under Schedule I of the rules, 22 electrical and electronic components or equipment or parts or spares are covered.

Impacts of E-Waste

  • E-waste has many detrimental effects on both the Environment and Human Beings.
  • Dumping of e-waste in landfills leads to leaching of toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the groundwater, thereby contaminating it.
  • They also degrade the soil.
  • In landfills, burning of e-waste will lead to air pollution.
  • All these causes irreversible damage to human beings and other life forms.

Conclusion

  • The findings of the study must be taken seriously by the government and proper rules for handling solar e-waste must be framed.
  • Above all, care must be taken that the framed rules are being enforced effectively.
  • But, if we have to go by the E-waste rules 2016 implementation and enforcement of rules seems to be the biggest impediment in managing e-waste in the country.
  • It is time the government took steps to change the scenario and put efforts in proper management of e-waste.
RLG launches Clean to Green Campaign to promote responsible e-waste recycling in India
Updates 16th February, 2018

Foraying into India to enable producers to fully comply with the stringent E-waste management rules, Munich headquartered Reverse Logistics Group (RLG), a leading global service provider of comprehensive reverse logistics solutions announced the launch of its flagship campaign ‘Clean to Green’ in India. The campaign is aimed at creating awareness and sensitise consumers on responsible disposal of electronics and safe practices for recycling by partnering with responsible organisations.

India is currently the fifth largest producer of e-waste in the world and a mere 1.5 percent of the total e-waste produced in India is properly recycled. As a part of the Clean to Green campaign RLG will seek to work with the electronic industry and corporates to address the issue of e-waste and enable successful implementation of Clean to Green in the country to safely dispose and recycle electronics.

To kick start the awareness programme among consumers, RLG will encourage RWAs, schools and offices in Delhi NCR to be an active part of this campaign through the ‘I Agree – Clean to Green’ Pledge and focus on creating large scale awareness in society and reiterate importance of responsible disposal of electronics for a healthy environment.

RLG will channelize e-waste, arranging for direct pickup and processing, ensuring that valuable metals can be reused and recycled for future electronics with a commitment that no e-waste will ever end up in a landfill poisoning the environment.

Ms. Radhika Kalia Managing Director, RLG India and Mr. Patrick Wiedemann, Global CEO, RLG during the Clean to Green camaign launch
Ms. Radhika Kalia Managing Director, RLG India and Mr. Patrick Wiedemann, Global CEO, RLG during the Clean to Green campaign launch

“At RLG we are committed to working towards creating a truly sustainable economy that works without waste, saves resources and is restorative by its circular design. India’s rapid economic growth is expected to intensify consumption and result in significantly higher generation of e-waste. In light of this, we are bringing global expertise in recycling, technical standards and e-waste management techniques to address the need of the hour through the ‘Clean to Green’ campaign.”

said Mr. Patrick Wiedemann, Global CEO, RLG at the launch

“We will leverage our highly innovative, comprehensive return management solutions, which enable manufacturers and distributors to actively drive product returns and thus facilitate multiple cycles of use.”

said Ms. Radhika Kalia Managing Director, RLG India commenting on the launch of Clean to Green in India

On the eve of the Clean to Green launch, RLG also organised an enriching panel discussion on ‘Reimagining E-waste: Creating sustainable solutions for India.’

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