A scheme has begun to recycle unwanted metal to make Olympic medals ©Tokyo 2020

Tokyo 2020 have today unveiled a new scheme collecting "discarded and obsolete" electronic devices to recycle metal used for the production of Olympic and Paralympic medals.

They are particularly hoping to reuse unwanted smartphones, digital cameras, handheld games and laptops.

Bins had already been set up by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in February for people to put their unwanted devices in, but the Games' Organising Committee only formally launched the project today.

This project aims to: "Engage the whole Japanese nation and will offer everyone the opportunity to play a role in the Games’ preparations, while drawing public attention to the importance of sustainability."

More than 2,400 NTT DOCOMO mobile phone stores and 350 local government offices in every prefecture of Japan will act as collection centres for discarded electronic devices.

Two swimmers in Takeshi Matsuda and Paralympian Takuro Yamada were present for a special launch event at a store in Otemachi.

“It's a great project that turns your old unused phones into athletes’ treasured medals," said Matsuda, a four-time medallist across the last three Olympic Games. 

"The phones will just be left at home otherwise. 

Swimmer Takeshi Matsuda was among the athletes present to launch the new Tokyo 2020 scheme ©Getty Images
Swimmer Takeshi Matsuda was among the athletes present to launch the new Tokyo 2020 scheme ©Getty Images

"I’m glad that by participating in this project, anyone can take part in the Games. 

"In this way, the medals become memorable for everyone, not just for the athletes."

Organisers hope to collect as much as eight tonnes of raw metal - around 40 kilogram of gold, 4,900kg of silver and 2,900kg of bronze.

Donors will receive special cards with a machine-readable QR code that will enable them to follow the creation process of the Games’ medals from recovery of the metal through to design and production, a statement today explained.

It is hoped that the initiative will continue for two years or until the eight tonnes target has been reached.

"For all athletes, the Olympic and Paralympic medals are something very special," added Yamada, a bronze medal winner at Rio 2016.

"Mobile phones are also filled with people’s thoughts and memories. 

"Tokyo 2020 Games’ medals will be even more meaningful for those who receive them, because they will be filled with people’s thoughts and hearts."