This Tiny Japanese Town Recycles, Reuses, Or Composts 83% Of Its Waste

In the town of Kamikatsu, residents must wash and sort virtually everything that is non-compostable before recycling it into one of 34 categories.


Many cities across the world, including San Francisco and New York, pride themselves on their “going green” initiatives, but few can compare with the success of a small town in Japan. Residents of Kamikatsu compost, recycle or rescue 80% of the garbage produced.

As you can learn about in the video above, the local government began requiring all 1,700 citizens to comply with a new, rigorous recycling program in 2003 – perhaps the most rigorous in the world.

The town prides itself on its achievement, even though it may not technically be 100% zero waste. At present, 20% of the town’s trash goes into the landfill – but that’s a huge improvement from 2003. By the year 2021, Kamikatsu hopes to meet its goal of contributing zero-waste.

Reports Seeker Stories, the impacts have been incredibly positive. Not only have community costs been cut dramatically, conditions of the lush and beautiful environment have been improved.

For many, the new rules took a while to get used to.

“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.”

Citizens of the town in Southeast Japan must wash and sort virtually everything that is non-compostable in their household before bringing it to the recycling sorting center. From razor blades to shampoo bottles, styrofoam meat trays to cans, the citizens take the initiative very seriously and prepare their trash before it is sorted into 34 categories.

At the sorting center, labels on each bin indicate the recycling process for that specific item, including how it will be recycled, what it will become, and how much that process can cost (or even earn).

For the consumer, it’s an education process as well as an opportunity to benefit their town and the environment. 

Credit: Seeker Stories

Credit: Seeker Stories

In addition to recyclable items, all kitchen scraps must be composted at home, as the town has no garbage trucks or collectors.

Reusing will always be one of the best ways to reduce waste, therefore, the town highly encourages people to reuse and/or donate objects that are no longer needed.

According to the Deputy Chief Officer at Zero Waste Academy, Skira Sakano, the town has a kuru-kuru shop where residents can bring in used items and take things home for free. In addition, Kamikatsu also has a kuru-kuru factory where local women make bags and clothes out of discarded items.

Kamikatsu is a beautiful example for the rest of the world, demonstrating the far-reaching impacts of many small actions.

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