Last night I found myself watching Japanology Plus on youtube, a guide to living in Japan for the advanced. Even though I don’t live in the country of
the rising sun sushi it’s a fascinating culture I enjoy discovering.
Recycling in Japan was not at the top of my playlist when I checked the channel, seriously there are far better topics like Mount Fuji, Bathhouses or Yokai to watch but somehow I decided to give it a go (28 minutes of recycling :P). Some time ago I heard that Japan is very clean and the Japanese are very tidy so I was seriously interested in how recycling works on the other side of the world.
Like everywhere in the world Japan dumps the extra waste into landfills but over time those contaminated the water ways. As an island nation space was limited and another solution had to be found.
Compared to us Western-Europeans Japans streets are clean not because they pay people to clean after others but because they expect citizens to take their trash home with them. No bins on the streets. This is very familiar to me and where I live in the Netherlands trash bins are really scarce. Trash isn’t.
Recycling still requires the cooperation of citizens with the municipalities and separating trash from recyclables is an individuals job. But compared to the Netherlands recycling in Japan is more strict and those who recycle properly are rewarded with lower trash costs.
The best part for me was listening to the Professor for Environmental Economy saying that economic growth and zero waste is possible and the only option for the future.
If the Japanese would just stop using plastic bottles I would be much happier.