Photo:すしぱく on Pakutaso

Know When/What to Throw Away – A Guide to Japan's Garbage Disposal System

As we move around through the roads of Japan, we could feel that every nook and corner is very clean. Each and every citizen of the nation is always taking care of keeping their city and surroundings clean and tidy. We could see this practice from the adults to the very little kids of Japan.  

The waste disposal system of Japan is entirely different from that of other countries. We could see a very systematic way of waste disposal done in every city. Waste bins could be seen in all public places. People used to separate the wastes during disposal time itself and put it in the specified garbage bins. Charts are issued every year by the city which has the details of items collected under various categories and the date of collection.

Garbage is classified under the categories burnable trash, recyclable wastes, and crushed wastes. Daily household wastes are separated while disposing in the waste bins. Plastics, papers, kitchen wastes etc. are collected in separate bins at the home itself. There will be many collection corners located in various parts of the locality in which these wastes are collected. From there, the vehicles of the waste management system of the city will take away the garbage bags for processing. Each city has their special polythene bags for the waste disposal. These bags are available in local supermarkets of the city. The colour of these bags differs according to the type of garbage. Even though these polythene bags cost more than what they really are worth, the amount is supposed to be charged for the waste collection. People are not allowed to dispose their waste in other polythene bags. For the disposal of recyclable garbage items like books and other paper items, bottles, styrofoam, ceramic wares, metal items etc. there are special stations in every locality. Everyone has to take such garbage to this place on its specific date and it will be collected.

Waste including vegetations in large amount such as cut up grasses or plants will be tied in special bags usually green in colour and disposed under a different category. Crushed items including electronic goods, bicycles, etc. could be disposed in special designated areas. Hazardous items are collected under another category. Some electronic items are not at all collected, but they have to either carried to the special collection centers or should be disposed with the electronic shops. Harmful items like oil, ceramic wares, glasses, batteries etc. are collected separately. For the disposal of some such items we have to pay some collection amount based on the weight of the items. The frequency of collection of garbage differs for various cities and the time varies according to the locality.

We could see garbage disposal boxes in front of every supermarket in which special spaces are provided for various items. There will be boxes for collecting the paper milk packets which have to be washed, cut as described on the packet and dry in air before disposal. Also the PET bottles and the cans should be separately disposed in different boxes. Styrofoam food packets are also collected in these areas. They should be cleaned well before disposal. There are boxes in some supermarkets for collecting the egg packets also. This kind of very systematic way of waste disposal and the obedience of each individual in disposal of waste items together makes every place in Japan look clean. We could see some people picking up waste from roads or other places of some tiny bit of plastic or paper that happened to be thrown away by someone. They believe that it is the responsibility of each of them to keep their city clean. Because of this mentality of the Japanese citizens, this country is able to keep its beauty and tidiness.

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