A Small Town in Japan Seeks to Become a Zero Waste Town With Stringent Recycling Laws

Since 2003, the small Japanese town of Kamikatsu has participated in a stringent recycling program that has reduced their garbage output by over 80%. The Seeker Network visited the town to learn more about the program and spoke some residents who have participated over the years.

Residents must wash and sort virtually anything that is non-compostable in their household before bringing it to the recycling sorting center. Shampoo bottles, caps, cans, razors, styrofoam meat trays, water bottles…the list goes on and on (literally) into 34 categories. At the sorting center, labels on each bin indicate the recycling process for that specific item – how it will be recycled, what it will become, and how much that process can cost (or even earn). It’s an education process for the consumer. All kitchen scraps must be composted at home, as the town has no garbage trucks or collectors. …At first, it was difficult to be come accustomed to the new rules. “It can be a pain, and at first we were opposed to the idea,” says resident, Hatsue Katayama. “If you get used to it, it becomes normal.”