Recycled medals

9th March 2017


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Author

Catherine Llewellyn

Metals in outdated and unwanted mobile phones and small electrical appliances will be recycled and forged into the medals awarded to Olympians and Paralympians at the Tokyo games in 2020.

The UK has been short of outlets for this type of waste, known as air pollution control residue, a fine powder that remains once gases have been cleaned.

For several years, the Environment Agency has allowed for it to be disposed at landfill if the waste exceeds the limits for leaching set by the 1999 EU Landfill Directive by up to three times.

In 2010, Defra pledged to withdraw the exemption. Since then, the waste industry has been working on technologies to recover the waste and use it in products, such as a replacement for aggregates in concrete.

Defra has now dropped plans to phase out the derogation over two years, citing a lack of alternative disposal solutions as the main reason. Jacob Hayler, executive director of waste trade body the Environmental Services Association, said the decision would damage investment in alternative treatment technologies.

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