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There’s no simple way to describe Japan’s garbage sorting system. Waste disposal is carried out at the municipal level, which means that each city, town, and district has a completely different system. To establish a comfortable life for both you and others in the community, it is important to follow the local rules for trash collection.
Figuring out how it’s done!
① When you move into a new address, your real estate agent or property manager should provide you with a trash separation pamphlet from your local municipal office. If not, you can pick one up from your city hall or even find the information online if it is offered.
② Refer to notices and signs posted in communal areas near your house around the neighborhood.
※ The majority of these will be stated only in Japanese so if you can’t read kanji but have a smart phone, Google translate will be very handy!
A trash schedule sign will be posted to indicated where you can leave your trash for pick-up.
Which trash is which? How do I separate it?
Trash in Japan is largely separated into 3 types.
①Combustible/Burnable Trash: Food waste, paper scraps, dirty plastic products, old clothing, rubber and leather materials, etc. These charts pretty much sum it up.
②Non-Combustible/Non-Burnable Trash: Metals, glass, ceramics, spray cans, broken light bulbs, etc.
※ Garbage that can be separated as plastics have a “プラ” mark (for plastic in Japanese) on the product label. PET bottle caps and their plastic sleeves should be removed and disposed with your “Plastics.” Don’t forget that your “plastics” such as convenient store bentos and plastic food containers must be rinsed and dried before putting it out.
③Recyclable Trash: Glass bottles, aluminum cans, PET bottles, cardboard, old papers, milk cartons, magazines and books, etc.
In some wards, PET Bottles and Plastic Containers / Package are sometimes separated from Recyclable Garbage and will be collected on a different day.
④Large/Oversized Disposable Items: Bicycles, futons, furniture, etc.
For oversized items, you must call and request ahead of time to arrange a pick-up with your particular ward. Refer to your garbage seperation pamphlet or gomi guide and the phone number for large trash pick-up should be written there. Once you have arranged a day for the large trash pick-up, there is a “large trash” sticker you should buy from the convenience store and put it on your large trash. This indicates that your large trash disposal has been properly arranged.
※ Major home appliances such as TV sets, air conditioners, computers, refrigerators/freezers, and washing/drying machines cannot be collected as oversized trash. If you are replacing the old item with a new one, be sure to tell the shop to collect the old item.
How to throw it out:
For household garbage disposal, you will need to collect your garbage according to the ward’s scheduled garbage pick-up day. Check to see which garbage will be picked up that morning whether that be burnable, non-burnable, recycleable, etc. Usually, the pick up time is no later than 8:00 A.M. so try not to miss it! You can sometimes put out your trash late the night before garbage pick-up.
It is recommended that your trash is in a clear, transparent plastic bag so the contents are visible. If you have large volumes of trash, you can purchase these large trash bags at the convenience store or supermarket. Be sure to follow these rules or your trash may not be picked up!
Though sorting garbage can be a pain sometimes, together as a society it is very efficient and eco-friendly. We are living each day as a member of a house, a member of a community, and of course as a contributor of the world, so let’s show some love and care.
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