While we may think we do our part by recycling paper, glass and plastic, and reusing items when possible, this town of 1,700 people in Kamikatsu, Japan has taken recycling to a higher level by producing zero waste.
At first the town incinerated all their trash but they realized that method of waste disposal was harming the environment and the health of the residents. They devised a zero waste program which requires a strict commitment from every citizen. Everyone must carefully prepare the trash they make for recycling, which includes separating paper labels from plastic and glass, making sure containers thrown out are clean, breaking down boxes, removing lids, and sorting all trash into 34 different categories.
The program was started in 2003 and right now 80% of waste is either reused or recycled, but by 2020 the goal is to be 100% zero waste. Classifying trash into different categories for recycling can be difficult and some people were opposed to the idea. But with time and knowledge they have gained the cooperation of the general population. Signs clearly set up at recycling bins let people known how much money the process will cost or be earned by their community and what their items will be recycled into. Like anything, once you get used to doing something, it becomes easier and normal.
The town also has a “circle shop” which residents can bring and take used items for free, depending on their need. There is also a factory where women make new products out of used or discarded materials.
This zero waste program in Kamikatsu, Japan is inspirational to see what can be achieved when everyone works together towards a common goal out of need and commitment. They have chosen to change their lifestyles to try and produce less waste overall. Would you live in a town like this?