Wednesday, June 14, 2006

garbage and recycling

Kind of a "stinky" subject to ramble on about...garbage.

When I came to Japan 5 years ago, I had to "learn" how to separate our rubbish. (In Hawaii, we don't separate our garbage and recycling has only started to pick-up due to the deposit of 5cents for every drink container. I was shocked when I went to the supermarket in Hawaii at how many plastic bags they use, almost 1 for each item!) In Japan, there are days that they only pick up burnables, days that they only pick up non-burnables and days that they pick up recyclables. Different cities have different rules for rubbish and recycle pick up.

I'm amazed at how small the trucks are here and 3 guys still ride in the cab of the truck--2 guys jump out to collect the garbage (I miss seeing that in Hawaii!)

For our city, Minoo, the plastic bottles that usually have drinks sold in them (called polyethylene terephthalate or PET bottles) have to be washed and turned in to local supermarkets along with egg containers (yes, they are clear and only 10 come in a pack) and styrofoam trays. The trays have to be washed too!

Milk containers must also be washed and cut like this then turned into the supermarket.

Aluminum cans, steel cans and glass bottles, have to be washed and sorted and left outside to be picked up.

Anywhere there are rubbish cans, you can always find them separating the garbage. These rubbish cans were in front of the 7-eleven nearby.

One thing you want to watch out for are the crows! I think they are they most evil birds around...Not only, do they poop on you while you walk under them, but, if you don't cover your rubbish with a net like this.....

He'll flip off any netting that isn't secured down and attack your garbage, looking for something to munch on---kind of like this....

Every resident in Minoo is allowed 20 liters of garbage for each pick up. Our city gives us 120 free garbage bags every April, if we use up our allotment before the next distribution (I think it was September), then we need to purchase more bags.

And you can't use any old garbage bag, it has to be the city's bag or they won't take your garbage! (Believe me, I've had my garbage bag refused!!) You may think that 120 bags should last a long time, but with all the junk mail and excessive plastic bags that are given to you when you buy things (I'm hoping they'll impose a 5yen charge for plastic bags--that should cut back the amount of bags that end up getting thrown out)--you'd be amazed at how fast a 20 liter bag fills up!

In order to cut down the amount of plastic bags that I keep, I have these two gadgets which I found at the 100yen ($1 ) store, it sticks to your refrigerator and you put your plastic bags inside from the top slot and take it out from the bottom slot--this way, if the gadget is full, I throw out the extra bags that I have. I usually use my cloth shopping bag, so the amount of plastic bags that I receive has dropped!

In our house, we also separate our garbage, left side for recyclables and right side for burnable rubbish.

Although, I have been separating and recycling for the past 5 years, I think I still have a lot more to learn about cutting back on waste!


bourgogne said...

great post!

i guess when you're an island you have to minimize trash even more than most countries. do they still make islands with the trash? what do they do with the PET and stryofoam materials? are the city's garbage bags biodegradable? or are they simply raising city money by mandating the use of their bags? what do the supermarkets do with the milk cartons? (i.e., sell them to an incinerator plant?) i rinse our stuff too but i always feel guilty about using (wasting) water. i guess i should try to use the water in our rain harvesting barrel (of course it hasn't rained in a long time)

btw, crows are icky, i agree!

K and S said...

Hi Bourgogne,

Thanks for stopping by. I've heard that Japan uses the milk cartons to make toilet paper. I'm not to sure what they do with the other things. I should get a rain barrel, or bucket, we should be getting some rain this weekend.

Take care.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting to see how people do it elsewhere!

K and S said...

Hi Bea,

Yes, it is interesting to see how people take care of their garbage!

Thanks for stopping by!


Piccola said...


So people turn in these pet bottles, styrofoam trays and egg trays to the supermarket. Just out of goodwill to recycle or because there are some kind of benefit when they do so?

K and S said...

Hi Piccola,

We don't get any money back for recycling in Japan, I guess you could say it just out of goodwill that people turn in these things to the supermarket.

Thanks for stopping by!