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Getting to zero: Tokushima town tries to recycle all its waste

17 Comments
By Natsuko Fukue

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I agree with philly1 here, there's a lot the individual can do to mitigate waste. As the residents of Kamikatsu demonstrated, a little awareness and effort can go a long way in reducing waste, though as others pointed out, these methods and attitudes will be difficult to scale up to big cities like Tokyo, where people have to keep up with the hustle and bustle of city life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Where I live in Japan, my town has between 7-10 categories of sorting, depending on how you dispose of certain items (some are easier to dispose of individually, or can be broken down to fit another category if you're willing to do the work.)

All the neighboring communities were absorbed by other larger administrative district cities, and so most everything goes into a single bag.  They have recycling to various degrees, but because it's all handled on such a large scale, most people just toss it all in one and the city just deals with it.

I love my town's efforts to sort, recycle, and properly dispose of things.  They sell the bales of metals and plastics back for funds that support the town.  I'm always disappointed when I visit my friends around me and they say that everything just goes in the same trash.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Our lifestyle depends mainly on plastic," the 38-year-old said, adding: "Consumers can reduce plastic waste to a certain extent, but we'll still have waste if producers keep making plastic products.

I live in the Bay Area of CA. In my house, we try very hard to keep waste down. Less than half of our neighbors are down with it. But most are not. You should see the amount of garbage they throw out.

In Seattle, when people are compelled to separate their trash, barely most do. Because the fine/extra cost is minimal compared to the cheap product.

Here's the truth of it: It took over a hundred years for things to be the way they are. So long as cheap, single-use disposable packaging is available, people will use it. Many if not most rather than sort trash will pay the extra on the on the disposal bill because its easier.

The solution is obious: make the real cost of plastic part of the sales price.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There should be Universal Recycling Color Category Code Boxes in this world.

Green Box - Garden

Blue - Bottles & Glasses

Brown - Cardboard

White - Plastic

Red - Tin & Cans

Yellow - Food

Purple - Paper

Charity Cloth - Clothes

Charity Item - Items

Other - Other

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The consumer can make choices. When living in Tokyo I was faced with having to sort my garbage into numerous categories. Since I had no room in my kitchen or narrow hallway to put multiple containers necessary to organize and collect garbage without my tiny studio apartment looking like a recycling depot instead of a home, I quickly learned how to avoid purchasing items which created waste.

For the mountain of glossy advertising flyers received on a daily basis, the apartment complex provided a container beside the mailbox. Advertising's gross levels of waste is never addressed when the garbage/recycling problem is discussed.

I managed to get it down to paper (mainly milk cartons), plastic wrappings and containers for healthy (no junk) food purchases, and glass (wine bottles). The rest went into the compostable category which I kept in the freezer between collection days to avoid bad smells. I also carried my own shopping bags. Except for fish or meat which can cause cross-contamination, I politely refused all the extra plastic bags most shops used.

It's hard work to avoid and manage waste. Commitment is required. Alas, that's discouraging to individuals who do their best when their neighbours and other nations do much less.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

 they should be praised and rewarded if possible for their contribution to the environment.

yes they should, I wonder if they get a discount on their city rates for all the work they put in, you know because after all the local government would save a bundle on not having to hire anybody to sort it. Being Japan I wouldn't hold my breath, one of many laws mandated to pass the cost of labour onto the average Taro.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

" have you noticed how many of the garbage bins at stations have separate shoots for glass, plastic and cans, but they all go into the same garbage bag?"

Another day and JT poster with no logic.

Have you noticed that the station staff sorts the trash after they change the bags? Have you noticed the different color garbage bags on the station staff's trolleys? Have you noticed that all the stations have  a separate room for sorting garbage and on the trolleys the garbage is  usually sorted by bag color? Have you noticed how many  people are at the trains stations/platforms and hence you have to as few bins as possible so you don't impede flow of people?

LOL LOL. again

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

" the truck came around, and loaded them all in the same time, then proceed to compact and crush them together! What was the point? Little disappointed!"

Another day, another JT poster who can't read.

"And that's not all: there isn't even trash collection. The 1,500 residents of the town in western Japan have to transport their waste themselves to a local facility."

Where in the article does it say the truck came and picked it up the trash?

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I mean, there is no way all the Tokyo megalopolis is going to carry their trash and sort it out into over 40 bins. Sorry.

I suspect the same might be true of many places. I'd like to think this could be implemented in my small town, but I fear that many of the local chavs would simply load up their car at night and dump it in the forest. ポイ捨て (fly tipping) naturally increases as you make waste disposal more troublesome or expensive. I'd be interested to know if this is the case in Kamikatsu too.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Isn't there yet a big push to make plastic wrapping out of biodegradable material? The technology exists. Can the plastic makers come around to something that is a win/win?

I mean, there is no way all the Tokyo megalopolis is going to carry their trash and sort it out into over 40 bins. Sorry.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This is wonderful to read. Having to do this makes them so conscious of waste. It should be expanded bit by bit and companies must be made to collect and dispose of their wrapping.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The rural areas are setting a fantastic example for the city dwellers and the rest of the world. Good for them! Howecer, in the cities, have you noticed how many of the garbage bins at stations have separate shoots for glass, plastic and cans, but they all go into the same garbage bag?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Separated the garbage into many categories: the truck came around, and loaded them all in the same time, then proceed to compact and crush them together! What was the point? Little disappointed!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Very Good Tokushima!

The more people start sorting like Tokushima the easier it will be as companies will start making their product wast more recyclable and easy to handle. I will guess the people in Tokushima check how much wast it will be when they choose what to buy.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

A lot of the problem stems from conbinis. I go buy a drink and a snack and have 3-5 pieces of plastic!

Also, look at that picture. A lot of the garbage clearly has the marking of its origin via trademark. Making the trademark holder pay some of the disposal fee may be one option.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Kamikatsu is already close to achieving its goal, recycling about 80 percent of the 286 tons of waste it produced in 2017, far more than the national average of 20 percent.

That's great! I'm curious tho, exactly how they are recycling, and what their definition of "recycling" is.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

What a Stirling effort that the local residence have made, they should be praised and rewarded if possible for their contribution to the environment.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

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