February 23, 2010

E-Waste: A Small Component of the 2010 Olympic Medals

Like many of you, I am enjoying watching the 2010 Olympic Winter Games that are taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia. There are reports about the unique design of the medals awarded at the 2010 Winter Games, but a sustainable component to these reports is worth discussing on this blog. Making Olympic and Paralympic history, the medals will be the first to contain metals recovered from end-of-life electronics (e-waste) otherwise destined for the landfill. The medals are comprised of metals provided by Teck Resources Limited (Teck). (Photo: VANOC)

In describing the process of making the metal into medals, Teck says, “Historically, metal for the medals has been sourced only from mineral deposits that are mined from the earth and refined for commercial use. Teck has created a recycling process to recover metal from end-of-life electronics (e-waste) such as TVs, computers and keyboards. This process provides a practical solution to the challenge of reducing the amount of e-waste material destined for landfills and is part of the company’s pursuit of sustainability—a core value that drives its approach to business.”

Furthermore, according to the Vancouver-based mining, mineral processing and metallurgical company, “Metal can be sourced from many manufactured metal products, including household appliances, electronics or cables. Teck’s process involves recovering metals contained in cathode ray tube glass, computer parts and circuit boards through smelting. The process involves shredding, separating, and heating of the various electronic components to recover a variety of metals.”

The gold, silver and copper used in the medals were recovered from e-waste and then combined with the metal from other sources for the medal production. The content of recovered metal from the e-waste material in the specific metals is: Gold: 1.52%; Silver: 0.122%; Copper: 1.11%. While the percentages of reused metals are minimal, manufacturing the medals with recycled metals creates an inspiring initiative to reducing the Olympic Games' carbon footprint.

In addition to providing the metals, Teck worked with Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) and the Royal Canadian Mint in the development and production of the medals. Click here to watch a video, “The Making of the Vancouver 2010 Medals.”

No comments:

Post a Comment