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NTT to mine old cellphones for Olympic medal materials

TOKYO -- Nippon Telegraph and Telephone wants to put the metal in the 2020 Olympic medals by mining gold, silver and copper from millions of used mobile phones. 

The Japanese telecommunications company on Friday said it will submit a proposal to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee. 

A similar effort to produce Olympic medals through "urban mining" -- the process of retrieving precious metals from discarded electronics -- is being led by RenetJapan, an appliance recycler in central Japan's Aichi Prefecture. NTT plans to work separately with wireless subsidiary NTT Docomo and supply the materials to the Olympic organizing committee. 

Although the design of the Tokyo medals has yet to be finalized, NTT estimates it will need to round up 8 million handsets.

Used phones will be collected at about 2,400 Docomo shops nationwide. The subsidiary already collects around 3 million units a year. NTT aims to boost the figure with a campaign encouraging the public to participate in the Olympic preparations.

Docomo has already obtained the required certification for recycling and developed a system for managing the serial numbers of the phones it gathers. 

Docomo is to take charge of the entire process, including transport and refining the metals to remove impurities. 

(Nikkei)

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