This Is Japans First Zero Waste City

Trying to work out whether to put your Subway wrapper into the green or red bin? Luckily for you, there’s a shining example in the tiny town of Kamikatsu, located in Japan. ⁣

With a population of around 1,500 people, the town has taken on an ambitious goal of achieving a waste output of 0. Yes you heard that right. To accomplish their mission, the locals sort their trash into 45 different categories. From here they embark on the routine task of washing, sorting and escorting their waste to the towns very own sorting centre.

How Did It All Start?

In the early 2000’s Kamikatsu’s waste system was just like any other Japanese village. If it’s trash, throw it in the incinerator and forget about it. However, when the harmful chemicals spewed out by this system began to be seen as a health threat, the Japanese government released new legislation that forced the shut down of Kamikatsu’s incinerator.

The town was in crisis mode and had to rapidly rethink the way they processed their waste. So it began and eventually they were led towards the ambitious idea to adopt a zero waste system. Food scraps were to be composted, waste was to be recycled and items that could be reused became household necessities.

What if something can’t be recycled?

For most individuals in the western world deciding what to with hard to recycle materials is down right confusing. However in Kamikatsu, a system is specifically put in place for any tough to recycle products. For example, products that have components from 2 or more categories need to be separated and placed in the correct bins.

What Are The Results?

The outstanding efforts of Kamikatsu’s community have resulted in the recycling of over 81% of all waste produced by the village. This is way more than the national average which only stands at 20%.

Overall there are many theories as to why this system was so successful in the village. Some think it was due to the sheer inconvenience of having to process the excess of living a wasteful life. To put it simply, if you waste more, you’ll need to process more. Regardless, Kamikatsu’s circular economy model continues to be a key example for the rest of the world to take inspiration from.

(Source: Sonia Narang / WHYY)

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