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
DEC 08, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 08, 2019
Oilseed rape crops thrive under climate change
Research published recently in Current Biology points towards at least one upside of climate change: some agricultural crops will have longer growing seaso...
DEC 09, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 09, 2019
Can Scientists Revive the Northern White Rhino Population?
The Northern white rhino is already on the brink of extinction with just two living females in the world today. Sudan, the last surviving male of the speci...
DEC 10, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 10, 2019
NOAA Unveils Florida Keys Reef Restoration Program
Earlier this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced "Mission: Iconic Reefs"—a new strategy to restore a...
DEC 14, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 14, 2019
Toxic stormwater pollution in LA beaches
Stormwater pollution is a big problem for LA beaches, report researchers with Heal the Bay, a non-profit environmental organization in the area. Scientists...
DEC 30, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 30, 2019
New Cobalt-free Electrochemistry to "Clean Up" Battery Manufacturing Practice
The rise of portable devices and electric vehicles (EVs) are changing the way we live and work. But the use of lithium-ion batteries, which are essential f...
JAN 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 27, 2020
Espresso, Scientifically
Everyone has their preferred way to make a cup of coffee, but for those who wish to become the master of espresso, now there's a highly scientific way...
Loading Comments...