Updated: February 25, 2016
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Kamikatsu, The Zero Waste Town In Japan

Japan has been really well known in keeping their country clean with their great waste management, but do you think zero waste is completely possible? Check this out!

Once again we have to learn from the Japanese people. A small town in Japan has successfully reduce their waste to almost zero percent.

Kamikatsu now recycles about 80 percent of its trash and only 20 percent is buried in a landfill.

It is already hard enough to reduce one's waste as big as 80%, let alone a community's waste!


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Photo: Yuki Shimazu

Kamikatsu is a town located in Katsuura District, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with a population of around 2000 people.

Originally the citizen were burning their waste away, but they realize the bad effect to the environment and decide to change their lifestyle to recycle rather than burning their waste in 2003.

Comparison to Other Japan Area

In Japan's major city, the usual waste separation is done in around 10 categories. Each residents (foreigner included) is given a handbook of how to separate trash of every categories together with a schedule of garbage collection day for each types.

We are also given the instruction to dispose larger garbage such as furnitures, futons, etc, electronics garbage, etc.

I got one handbook to when I move to Japan!
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For example, in Tokyo he 5 major categories are burnables, non-burnables, glasses, cans, and PET bottles. It is common to find these kinds of garbage bin all over Tokyo.
This small town takes recycling waste very seriously, even for Japan's strict standard, which is by dividing their waste by 34 types and is aspiring to be the 'zero waste town' by 2020.

Even the cans type of waste (that is all mixed in one category (cans) in another city, such as Tokyo) has to be separated to aluminium and steel cans, as well as their paper waste has to be separated into cartons, magazine, etc.

How They Do It

With 34 categories of trash to separate from, it can be overwhelming, hard and confusing and of course not all people are good in separating their trash.

For that reason, this activity is managed by a Zero Waste Academy who also regularly hosts groups of local schoolchildren and foreign visitors, educating them on the benefits of a zero waste lifestyle.

For you who are interested in zero waste lifestyle, it is recommended to actually visit this town by yourself and learn directly from them!


I personally think that it is really cool that they can reduce waste that much by separating their waste into 34 categories, but I think it will be hard to apply in our daily lives, even for someone who is currently living in another area of Japan.
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But at least, I hope it can inspire you guys to start being mindful of your waste and do what you can to reduce waste!

I hope it also can inspire another communities to learn from Kamikaktsu and start their own waste management.

Spread the words!
An International student having the adventure of her life in Tokyo, Japan.

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