We’re always looking for fantastic posts and this from Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian, February 18th was no exception.
Circuit boards from trashed computers in Belgium recycled to provide tiny amounts of metal to make winter olympic medals
The gold, silver and bronze medallions slung around winning athletes’ necks as they step on to the winners’ podium at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games could well be made from the guts of an old Belgian computer.
The manufacturer of medals for this Olympics is for the first time incorporating token amounts of recycled material into the medals. Medals historically have been made of freshly mines ores.
The innovation – though largely symbolic – was directed by an Olympic organising committee which had vowed to put on the greenest games ever, raising the bar for London in 2012.
Organisers aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15% from business as usual. The nine new buildings constructed for the games set a new green standard for any complex of buildings in North America, drawing heat from the ocean and exhaust systems, incorporating green roofs and solar panels. The village for the athletes will be converted into housing when the games are over.
However, efforts to put on a green games were undermined by unseasonably warm conditions, which forced organisers to fly and truck in snow for the freestyle skiiing and snowboarding venue.
Teck, the Canadian-based mining and metallurgical company charged with making the medals, said on its website that it had developed a process to recover metals from unwanted cathode ray tube glass, computer circuit and keyboards, cables and other e-waste.
“The process involves shredding, separating and heating of the various electronic components to recover a variety of metals,” the company said. It said the gold, silver and copper used in the medals was recovered from trashed circuit boards collected and processed in Belgium.
The company has touted the innovation as a means of avoiding some of the hundreds of thousands of tons of e-waste that would otherwise end up in landfills – although not all that much, even by Teck’s own admission.
Third-place finishers will get a medal that has just 1.11% recycled material when they go home with a bronze. Silver medals contain barely 0.12% recycled material. And for the gold, which is gold plate, the figure is 1.52%.