JUN 17, 2019 3:54 PM PDT

Small Town in Japan Aims to be Zero-Waste by 2020

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

Since 2003, the small town of Kamikatsu in western Japan has been on a mission to become “zero-waste.” In 2000, the city was left with only one trash incinerator when the others could no longer meet emissions standards. The remaining incinerator could not process the amount of waste that the town was producing and purchasing a new incinerator for the town was not an option due to the high cost. 

Rather than ship waste to another town to process, the residents of Kamikatsu developed a recycling program that currently features 45 separate categories. Traditional recycling categories such as paper and aluminum exist, but Kamikatsu also has categories for items like pillows and toothbrushes.

Town official Midori Suga told Agence France-Presse (AFP), “We thought, ‘If we can’t burn waste in the town, then let’s recycle.’ It’s cheaper to recycle waste than burn it.”

There is no trash collection for the town of 1,500 residents. Residents sort their waste and transport it to the local waste facility themselves. They must wash and dry items such as plastic bags and bottles. If an item contains several materials that can be recycled, they must disassemble the object into separate categories to be recycled. Many residents use compost bins for food waste.

As of 2017, 80% of the town’s waste was recycled. The national average for Japan is 20%. Kamikatsu hopes to be “zero-waste” by 2020, meaning that nothing will be sent to incinerators or landfills.

Suga told AFP that she believes the town will struggle to meet their goal unless overall consumption is reduced. She said, “We shouldn’t just focus on how to dispose of trash. We need to come up with policies that prevent the production of waste.”

According to the manager of the waste center, plastic is the majority of waste brought there. Although Japan produces less waste per person as a nation, it generates more plastic waste than any other country except the United States. The Japanese government has proposed to reduce the nation’s plastic production by 2030; however, not all types of plastic packaging is covered in the plan.

Source: AFP
 

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
AUG 05, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Drop in CO2 Linked to Climate Change 34 Million Years Ago
AUG 05, 2021
Drop in CO2 Linked to Climate Change 34 Million Years Ago
A decline in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 drove the Earth’s climate to change from warm to ice-cold around ...
SEP 08, 2021
Plants & Animals
Are the skeletons of macaque hybrids distinct?
SEP 08, 2021
Are the skeletons of macaque hybrids distinct?
New research sheds insight into the evolution of the human pelvis by using macaque hybrid models.
SEP 22, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Commercial Fusion Energy Could be Within Reach, Thanks to the World's Most Powerful Magnet
SEP 22, 2021
Commercial Fusion Energy Could be Within Reach, Thanks to the World's Most Powerful Magnet
Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) announced this month that their new magnet might be the breakthrough needed to make fu ...
SEP 27, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Nudging Closer to a Sustainable Future
SEP 27, 2021
Nudging Closer to a Sustainable Future
Attitudes toward sustainable solutions have rapidly changed in the last few decades as environmental issues like climate ...
OCT 04, 2021
Plants & Animals
U.S. Declares Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Several Other Species Extinct
OCT 04, 2021
U.S. Declares Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Several Other Species Extinct
According to a recent announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, also called the & ...
OCT 10, 2021
Plants & Animals
Temperature Perception Seems to be Different in Males & Females
OCT 10, 2021
Temperature Perception Seems to be Different in Males & Females
It's not unusual for people in workplaces and at home to have different temperature preferences. There may be biological ...
Loading Comments...