Resources
Recycling your Rubbish

Recycling your Rubbish


Added In: Resources › How to in Chubu


Sue Connely
02.04.2008


The mayor of Nagoya on his English website tells us:
 
...Now we have created a new culture of recycling, with many people very passionate about the correct separation of their garbage. From the peak levels, we have achieved a 30 ton decrease in the amount of garbage being produced... our citizens now fall into 3 major groups - those who separate their recycling correctly, those who do not, and those who are still unsure how to. After all the turmoil, Nagoya now enjoys the benefits of less garbage, and a new recycling culture. The lifestyle changes that are fostered by garbage reduction play a large part in helping to reduce CO2 emissions that so threaten humanity and the planet. I'd like to return once more to the basics and ensure the future of Nagoya's many assets...
 
If the mayor is correct that there are three types of Nagoya residents: those who recycle, those who deliberately don't, and those who don't know how, then which category do you belong to? Which category would you like to belong to? Although many non-Japanese like to point to Japan as such a wasteful country, a country of wooden chopsticks and extra wrapping, Nagoya is well ahead of other cities that don't treat garbage disposal as a major issue. While this might be true, change happens at ground level, and you can have a direct impact on what is buried around Nagoya. Along with measures like taking your own shopping bag and refusing the extra wrapping at a department store, just a little study and you can take great recycling habits back to your own home country.
 
If you live in Nagoya, when you moved into your house you probably received an explanation in English about garbage disposal. There will be three days listed - the day on which you put out your burnable garbage (moeru gomi - these will be burned without being recycled), one day for your non-burnable garbage (moenai gomi - this goes straight in the landfill) and one day for recyclables. Two of these days may even be the same day, but the place you have to put this garbage may be different, and the colour bag you use definitely is different. The burnable and non-burnable days are quite straightforward, but the more you can put out for recycling the better for the environment. Remember - it's not just Nagoya that you're saving - it's the whole planet, since CO2 emissions are a global problem.

Recycling brings a community together or splits it apart. Watch how unpopular will become if just your un-rinsed recyclables attract crows to the neighbourhood, or worse yet if your bags are not picked up off the street for separation infringements! On the other hand, many Japanese neighbours will be friendly enough to help you out when you are first here... it's a confusing process they know, and that first friendly contact over the garbage separation can lead to valuable friendships in the neighbourhood later on. Making good connections in your neighbourhood is one of the most important things you can do, and one of the ways you can do this is to try and get the garbage right!
 
Here's a handy hint - if you don't want to remember "recycling day" on your calendar, your local big supermarket will often have recycling bins outside the door where you can deposit your recyclable waste at the same time as you do your family shopping. With a little bit of forethought, recycling does NOT have to be a big problem.
 
The first thing you'll have to do in order to make the mental shift necessary to become a recycler, is to set up your kitchen to be recycling friendly. Most garbage bins on the market today are more like "recycling stations", they have separate compartments for the burnable and non-burnable rubbish, and then hooks off the side so that you can hang bags for the different categories of recyclable waste. You'll need five different places to deposit the different categories of garbage - that sounds like a lot, but the trick is to set it up this way at the very beginning of your stay. There are so many ideas for recycling stations that you can find right in your local home centre.
 
The second thing that will help you make the mental leap into environmental friendliness is to adapt your routines. Every time you have a recyclable item in your hand, rinse it off and put it straight into the appropriate bin. Have a draining area to drain rinsed items. Have the whole process mapped in your head, and you'll find it easier to stick to the routine. It's said that once you've run through a process three consecutive times it becomes habit, so set yourself a goal of three weeks to become fluent in recycling. Once you are running on autopilot it hardly takes any time out of your day at all. Part of that autopilot plan has to involve disposal - either you take recyclables with you every time you go shopping (to get rid of it bit by bit and by routine), or you plan on the scheduled recycling days and have the satisfaction of getting rid of a lot at the same time.
 
OK, now here are the different categories of recyclable rubbish. It will seem like a lot to remember (which is why Nagoya City produces the recycling guides in English; you can pick them up for free at any ward office), but with a little perseverance you will soon have in your mind what you need to know to really make a difference in your neighbourhood.
 
Recyclable rubbish in Nagoya uses the same blue bags, but it is necessary to use different bags for:

1. Plastics
2. Papers
3. PET bottles
4. Empty cans (although this is sometimes put in baskets depending on the area that you live in)
 
And there are usually baskets put out for the following:

4. Empty cans (as above)
5. Empty glass bottles
 
Please note that all bottles and containers with a lid should have the lid removed; as these items are usually compressed in the back of the rubbish truck it makes the process a lot more efficient. Most of the hard plastic lids (pet bottles, coffee jars etc.) are moenai gomi unless otherwise indicated.

OK, now here is the lowdown on what is what. It seems confusing at first, but after a while you'll be flying on autopilot.

1. Plastics have this mark. You can check the following items for the mark:
* Plastic containers and packages
* Bottles (excluding PET bottles) - this includes things like pump bottles for soap or shampoo, plastic bottles from cleaning agents, etc.
* Cups and packs - this includes things like yogurt lids
* Plastic bags and wraps
* Nets
* Potato crisp packets
 
Please rinse the item before putting in the specified bag for recyclable containers and packages. Please keep all plastics in the same bag. Deposit at the specified collection place of your area by 08:00 on the day of collection (by 07:00 for residents of Naka Ward).
 
2. Papers have this mark. You can check the following items for the mark:
* Paper cartons
* Paper containers and cups
* Packaging materials
* Paper bags

Please note: not everything that is made of paper is included in this category. For example, receipts simply go in the burnable garbage, while newspapers and other printed materials get collected separately. There are often recycling drives by local schools where they collect things like newspapers and cardboard. This is another reason it's good to have a friend in the local Japanese community, to help you know when a recycling drive is going to take place.
 
Please rinse before putting in specified bag for recyclable containers and packages, if necessary, and please keep all paper products in the same bag. Deposit at the specified collection place of your area by 08:00 on the day of collection (by 07:00 for residents of Naka Ward)
 
3. PET bottles have this mark. You can check the following items for the mark:
* Beverages, sake, vinegar, and soy sauce bottles with the PET bottle mark

Please rinse before putting in specified bag for recyclable containers and packages. Please keep all PET bottles in the same bag. Deposit at the specified collection place of your area by 08:00 on the day of collection (by 07:00 for residents of Naka Ward)
 
4. Empty cans
(These do not have a mark, but it should be obvious!)

Beverage and food cans only

Please rinse before recycling. Chikusa, Higashi, Kita, Nishi, Nakamura, Naka, Showa, Mizuho, Atsuta, Minami, Moriyama, Midori, Meito, and Tempaku Wards require a specific bag for recycling. Residents of Nakagawa and Minato Wards should deposit empty cans into yellow containers placed at the specified collection place of your area by 08:00 on the day of collection.

5. Empty glass bottles
(Again, these do not have a mark, but it is obvious which they are)

Beverage and food bottles only
Please rinse before recycling.
 
Deposit empty glass bottles into blue containers placed at the specified collection place of your area by 08:00 on the day of collection (by 07:00 for residents of Naka Ward)
 
Deposit at the specified collection place of your area by 8:00 on the day of collection (by 7:00 for residents of Naka Ward).

This article is sponsored by H&R Consultants, the Japan Real Estate and Relocation company.