Kamikatsu, the Zero Waste town in Japan
At the waste collection center in Kamikatsu, Japan, there are separate bins for different types of paper products: newspapers, magazines, cartons, flyers. Then there are separate ones for cans: aluminum, spray, steel. There are even individual bins for plastic bottles and caps.
But that’s only a handful of the 45 categories that Kamikatsu residents sort their trash into.
It may seem like an overkill, but the small Japanese town is on a mission to become the country’s first ‘zero-waste’ community by 2020. And, they’re almost there; Kamikatsu already recycles about 80 percent of its trash.
“I will be happy if the Kamikatsu model spreads around the world”, said Akira Sakano, 28, who heads the NGO “Zero Waste Academy” that operates the waste collection site.
In 2003, Kamikatsu declared its zero-waste ambition after the town gave up the practice of dumping trash into an open fire for fear of endangering both the environment and the population.
There are no garbage trucks, so each resident has to wash, sort, and bring their trash to the recycling center which has now become a kind of social community center.
Kamikatsu’s waste station also hosts a shop called “Kurukuru”, meaning “circular” in Japanese. The town’s residents can drop off items there they no longer use and take home anything they want for free. In 2016, 13 tons of things were brought in and 11 tons were taken away!