Monday, June 12, 2017

Trash in Japan

Before I left on my study abroad trip, I had heard about how difficult sorting trash in Japan was. I had no idea it was this complicated though.

Trash is sorted into different categories - the ones I've used the most are empty cans, pet bottles, burnable garbage, glass, and plastic containers/packaging. Trash categories are typically labeled somewhere on an item itself or the label. Depending on the area you live in, each category of trash is collected on a different day. It's very important to have your town's trash guide, because each town and district has completely different systems. Also, different categories require certain designated bags that you have to purchase at the store. Not only do you need to sort your garbage, you also need to clean it. Pet bottles, glass bottles, and plastic containers need to be rinsed out and completely empty before you throw them away.

You must be thinking why trash collection is so tedious here. Well, the fact is that there is a lack of land suitable for landfill. When it comes to the United States, it has much more land to use for landfill.

After I drink a bottle of Coke, I rinse the inside of the bottle, throw the cap away in the plastic trash container, pull the plastic label off, throw the plastic label into the plastic trash container, and then the bottle is disposed in the pet bottle trash container. When it's time for glass bottle collection, I have to walk a few meters away from my dormitory to throw the glass bottles away in a bin on the street.

At supermarkets in Japan, plastic bags are three-five cents a piece. Everyone typically brings an eco-friendly bag for their groceries. In addition, trash bins in public are very scarce. Unless you're at a convenience store or at the subway station, it is very likely you'll have to wait until you arrive at your destination to throw away your trash.

I went to a cafe at Nagoya University this past weekend, and this is what the trash section looked like.

On the left, you throw out what's left of your drink (if any), and then place the cups on the tray so it can be sorted accordingly. Other restaurants/cafes follow the same rule, so it can be quite nerve wracking if you are new to this kind of trash system!

Until next time! 👋