Friday, December 5, 2014

The Japanese Waste Stream Part 1/2

Most of us in the eBay business are aware of the amount of perceived waste we as humans create every single day. I've always been a recycle-r. In sixth grade there was a sign above the bins in the lunch room that said "the energy from one recycled aluminum can is enough to power a TV for an hour." Who knows if that is true (probably not with HD TVs) but literally since that day EVERY TIME I see a can in the trash I cringe. If there is recycling nearby I pick it out of the trash and move it to the recycling. I'm that person.

When we moved to Japan in 2009 I was shocked at how specific we had to be with recycling and waste disposal. Japan has the most advanced and amazing recycling system in the world. (This is my opinion, but probably also fact). Every day of the week we took our waste to an assigned spot on our street (they were about every 100 yards or so).

This green mesh indicated a waste removal location. This was my actual neighborhood. 
I really really really miss it. I have no idea what is on top of that car.

What we took to the spot changed each day, and it went something like this:

Monday - Cans, glass, plastic bottles but NOT the caps those go on Thursday (seriously)
Tuesday - Burnable (you know, the stinky stuff)
Every Other Wednesday - Boxes/Magazines
Thursday - Non - Burnable  (Styrofoam, plastic mesh, plastic, blister packaging)
Friday - Burnable (twice a week)
One Day a Month - "Community pick-up" (clothes, cooking pots, things that can be resused)
Case by Case - large household items, small appliances

If you messed up, the garbage man would leave the trash with a big yellow rejection sticker, and you had to sort it again. Embarrassing.

If you want cash for your trash, you could sell it to these guys, who are basically what we know as "junkers", but because people can't just leave their stuff on the sidewalk they have to advertise by way of loudspeaker.

Stay tuned for part two. It will focus more on the TREASURE vs the TRASH of the Japanese Waste Stream!


  1. Interesting. Can't wait to see Part 2. I suppose with a small area of land they are much more strict with waste. I wish we were here in the US. My sister lives in a small city in Northern Michigan that doesn't recycle. Everything goes right in the garbage. It really bothers me when I visit. I'm tempted to bag it all up and bring it home with me.

  2. It was just like this when my daughter lived in Germany ten years ago. (I visited her twice.) I really think the only thing she actually put in a garbage can were vegetable and fruit peelings and egg shells. The Germans are known for checking the garbage cans of American to be sure they are doing it right. If not, fines are prolific. Yes, they do police this, but it is effective, and the Germans seem to be on board.