Getting to zero: the Japan town trying to recycle all its waste

phys.org | 6/11/2019 | Staff
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Plastic, paper, metal? In Japan's Kamikatsu, sorting rubbish isn't that simple. Residents face a mind-boggling 45 separate categories for their garbage as the town aims to be "zero-waste" by 2020.

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.

Naoko - Yokoyama - Resident - Trash - Town

"Yes, it's complicated," said Naoko Yokoyama, a 39-year-old resident who had brought her trash to the town's waste centre.

"But I have become more environmentally conscious since I moved here a year ago," she told AFP.

Categories - Everything - Pillows - Toothbrushes - Town

The categories cover everything from pillows to toothbrushes as the town aims to recycle all its waste, sending nothing to incinerators, by next year.

The process can be onerous—not only are there dozens of separate categories, but items like plastic bags and bottles must be washed and dried to facilitate recycling.

Town - Waste - Facility - Dozens - Boxes

At the town's waste facility, there are dozens of different boxes for each category. If the parts of an item fall into different categories for recycling, residents are expected to take them apart and send each bit to the right container.

One man who had brought in a shelf had to use a hammer to prise the wood from the metal, while elsewhere workers chopped up a thick, long rubber tube so it would fit into a sorting box.

Parts - Japan - Separation - Areas - Categories

Many parts of Japan already require separation of rubbish, but most areas have just a few categories, with the bulk of household waste going to incinerators.

'Let's recycle'

Kamikatsu - Town - Incinerators - Emissions - Standards

Kamikatsu was not much different until an ultimatum: in 2000, the town was ordered to shut down one of its incinerators because it no longer met stricter emissions standards.

That left the town with just one incinerator that couldn't handle all of Kamikatsu's waste, and there wasn't enough money for a new one or to pay a neighbouring town...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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