Renet Japan Group Inc., a major dealer in second-hand goods based in Obu, Aichi Prefecture, is stepping up efforts to collect and recycle mobile phones and computers so it can forge Olympic medals out of recycled goods.

Similar moves in the private and public sectors are spreading nationwide.

"Old electric appliances are considered a nuisance in households, but they are actually a treasure trove," said Renet Japan President Takeshi Kuroda, 50, as he perused piles of dusty PCs, printers and cellphones packed in cardboard boxes.