Kamikatsu: Dream City without Trash

The History of Waste Management in Japan

Credit: Andres Zuleta/Source: https://boutiquejapan.com/best-things-about-japan/

Japan is not only known for its unique and diverse culture or even its delicious food, yet people habit of discipline and hardworking nature has become Japanese characteristic. Japan also is known for its responsible waste management system and the waste sorting process that is actively done by most of its people. By doing so, Japan becomes one of the cleanest countries in the world. If you think that those habits have been done since ancient times, then your thought is not entirely true. In the past 20 years, Japan has not started to segregate their waste yet. Even in the 1960s and 1970s, the awareness of the community toward waste and environment was very low. As a newly emerging country after the war, Japan has turned into an industrial country which focused on its economic development. By becoming an industrial country, Japan produced more waste than before. As a result, the level of environmental pollution and poisoning due to industrial activities had been increased significantly in Japan.

Tokyo is one of the city that experienced the impact of these activities. Household waste and garbage became the biggest problem for Tokyo citizens. The negative effects that occurred as a result of industrial and economic growth that increased significantly were also felt by Japanese society. Finally, in the mid-1970s they started to make a community movement which focuses on maintaining the environment called chonaikai. The community began to embed a sense of caring for the environment through socialization on how to dispose or segregate waste. Chonaikai uses the main theme of reducing waste disposal, reusing items that still can be used, and recycling. This movement got a lot of support from the community, yet the Japanese government itself did not have a law that regulates waste management since they did not consider waste as their main problem. Until June 2000, the Japanese government finally passed a law for regulating recycling orientation or also known as Basic Law for Promotion of the Recycling-Oriented Society. This law was created to reduce the massive negative impact in the future. Not only the recycling process, but waste incineration was also applied to complete the zero waste to landfill (ZWTL) program.

Another event that made Japanese people begin to care about environmental problems is Minamata tragedy in 1958. The Minamata tragedy happened as a result of the poor waste treatment and waste disposal processes which carried out by the Chisso factory. The Chisso factory dumped mercury and other hazardous waste to the Minamata Bay and contaminated the water also the fish there. Because of this incident, there was a disease that arose among people who lived in Minamata, called Minamata disease. Most of the people who suffered from the disease experience brain damage as well as spinal cord tissue. In 2001 there were more than 1,700 deaths from this tragedy. After this incident, Japan has been very concern about responsible waste management and waste segregation. Even according to the information published by CNN Indonesia, every Japanese citizen is provided with a booklet which has detail instruction about sorting 518 types of good, so they are able to sort their own waste properly. Meanwhile, in general, the Japanese government divides waste into 4 types, such as:

  1. Moeru Gomi or waste that can be burned, like food steaming paper, tissue, and kitchen waste.
  2. Moenai Gomi or waste that cannot be burned, like metal pieces such as spoon and forks, glass, cans, and bottles.
  3. Sodai Gomi or large size of garbage, like furniture and electronic goods.
  4. Gomi Shigen or recycled waste, such as cans, bottles, fabrics, and newspaper.
Japan has a complicated sorting system that must be carried out by its citizens. (Wikipedia)


Kamikatsu: Zero-Waste City in Japan

Have you ever heard about the city of Kamikatsu before? This small town, which only populated by 1,580 people, located in Tokushima is also known as one of the trash-free cities in the world. So how did Kamikatsu begin their zero-waste movement? Since 1990, the local government of Kamikatsu has tried to replace the newest and more effective ways to deal with the waste issue. Previously, like in other cities, they chose to burn their waste to overcome the amount of garbage that had accumulated. They use this method until they finally realized that this incineration process would adversely affect the environment, also the natural resource that they used every day. As a result, they changed their focus into the process of recycling waste. Not only that, since 2003 Kamikatsu started their zero-waste program after the enactment of a regulation which prohibited the toxic chemicals that used in the incineration process. Not only because of the regulation, Kamikatsu residents also chose to do a zero-waste program because it was considered cheaper and economically profitable compared to buying a waste burner.

Source: https://www.nippon.com/en/guide-to-japan/gu900038/the-kamikatsu-zero-waste-campaign-how-a-little-town-achieved-a-top-recycling-rate.html?pnum=2


To become a zero-waste city, the residents of Kamikatsu need more effort and discipline than other regions. It can be seen from the waste management system that they are doing. At the beginning of their program, Kamikatsu started with 9 categories of waste that they have to sort, such as aluminum cans, iron cans, paperboard, brochure paper, clothing, wooden goods, neon lights and more. They must sort the waste in the right sorting bins. However, before sorting their waste, they have to ensure that their wastes are clean. After that, the collected waste will be brought to the sorting center and place in the trash that matches the respective categories. Not only their responsible waste management system that is very strict, Kamikatsu also has a special shop located right in the town hall to collect second-hand goods that still suitable for use. In this place, people can put their items or clothes, so that it can be used by other people and the goods are not wasted in vain. Furthermore, the clothes or used goods can also be changed by craftsmen into handicrafts like dolls or jackets from festival flags.

Source: https://www.nippon.com/en/guide-to-japan/gu900038/the-kamikatsu-zero-waste-campaign-how-a-little-town-achieved-a-top-recycling-rate.html?pnum=2

As a zero-waste city that continues to grow, Kamikatsu already has a vision in improving its waste management. Even though Kamikatsu is now able to recycle 81% of the waste that they produce, they still have an ambitious plan for the future to become a 100% zero-waste city. In 2020, they plan to not even produce waste to achieve their goal. By implementing a periodic recycling process, reusing items that are still feasible, and lastly converting waste into compost, their plan is certainly very likely to be achieved. Likewise, since 2017, they have also begun to make a special project which is giving cloth diapers to the residents who have babies. This program is done to reduce the amount of use of disposable diaper, whereas with cloth diapers they can wash it and use it many times.

Zero-Waste Cities Around the World

Source: https://www.borderlandsproducerescue.org/education_corner_how_sf_is_becoming-a-zero-waste-city/

Not only Kamikatsu, it turns out that there are also other cities around the world that implement a zero-waste program in their cities. Those cities are San Francisco, Flanders, and Gipuzkoa. As one of the big cities in America with a population 884,363 in 2017, San Francisco became the first city in America to launch a zero-waste program in 2002. Similar to Kamitasu, San Francisco also has an ambitious goal which is to achieve 100% zero-waste in 2020. To achieve this goal, San Francisco has strict regulations regarding the prohibition of using plastic bags and require its citizens to do responsible waste management. They also invite restaurant, hotels, landowners and entrepreneurs to works together on this project. The city of Flanders in Belgium turned out started a zero-waste program earlier compared to San Francisco. Flanders is starting its zero-waste program since 1980. They focus on recycling, waste segregation, and prevention of excessive waste production. At present, 75% of household waste is diverted from the landfill. The last city that is also inspiring for its zero-waste program is the city of Gipuzkoa in Spain. Within 5 years, this city has reached 50% in conduction waste reduction program and making this city as the fastest city in transitioning to a zero-waste city in Europe. In 2011, Gipuzkoa made a goal to reach 70% in zero waste to landfill (ZWTL).

Residential Waste Collect from Waste4Change    

So how about the waste management program in Indonesia? Based on the data from the ministry of environment and forestry, Indonesia is in the second rank in producing plastic waste to the sea just right after China. According to Ms. Tuti Hendrawati Mintarsih through CNN Indonesia, she said that in 2019 the amount of waste in Indonesia will be increased to 68 million tons, while the production of plastic waste is estimated to reach 9.52 million tons, equivalent to 14% of the total amount of waste that produced in Indonesia. However, based on Presidential Regulation No. 97/2017, the Indonesian government has launched 2025 clean-from-waste Indonesia program with its plan to reduce 30% of waste, and 70% of waste management, so the waste will not pile up in landfills.

This program certainly will never happen without the awareness and support from Indonesian people themselves. As a social entrepreneur which engaged in waste management, Waste4Change focusing on waste management which is also responsible for residential areas and we offers a service known as residential waste collect. Waste4Change facilitates and collects waste in a responsible manner. We ensure to reduce the amount of waste that enters into landfills by sorting waste, recycling and managing residues, as well as composting. We also collect waste periodically and provide information about sorting waste that has been done by our consumers in a transparent manner. To provide convenience to its customers, Waste4Change provide waste collection services in several areas, which are the Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang, Depok, and Bekasi.

In need of a responsible and segregated waste collection services? You can use our service right away. In addition other than collecting waste for residential areas, Waste4Change also serves commercial waste collected for companies, businesses, buildings, cafes, and restaurants. See more information about residential waste collect services at waste4change.com.


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