No, this is not an episode of “Hoarders.” Though the effort these global citizens put into recycling may look similar.
The most mind-blowing thing about Kamikatsu, Japan, other than the 34 categories of recycling citizens follow?
There’s nothing new about it.
2,000 residents of this no-waste town in the mountains of Katsuura District used to dispose of waste via incineration or tossing trash into landfills. Now, the town aims to completely eliminate the use of both landfills and incinerators, and rely solely on the principles of REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE.
And these residents are nearing their goal (they’re at 80 percent no waste) because they abide by strict guidelines for recycling, reusing and reducing consumption. They even separate and save old sake bottles.
At first, most citizens were opposed to the idea of the intense program but now according to Katayama, “I don’t think about it. It’s become natural to separate trash correctly.”
Several residents in the town even own electric composters--allowing them to better manage food waste, and condense it into compost quicker.
Residents start by composting all leftover foods. Next, it's reusing bottles, and jarring cans, along with anything else considered reusable.
Then it comes time to recycle. This is where effort from the whole town comes together. Elderly citizens pitch in to clean the recycling facility, while others work sorting, and separating recyclables.
They don’t skip on steps that much of the rest of the world ignores. For example:
1) Remove lids from plastic bottles.
2) Rinse and clean all recyclable plastic containers.
3) Remove plastic labels from bottles.
In the video above, Hatsue Katayama says, “classifying garbage for recycling can be difficult. To wash the containers thoroughly so there are no remains is hard work.”
Residents take the sorted recyclables to the facility where the remaining part of the sorting, melting down, and re-creating material takes place. Going through all the steps to recycle and reuse materials provides huge incentives to reduce consumption. If that’s not enough, there are signs at the drop-off spot for recycled materials telling residents what the materials they drop off will be made into, and how much it costs.
It’s not easy and recycling properly takes time and knowledge, but the citizens of this town have improved their environment and health.
All cities recycle differently. For example in Tacoma, Washington, compost can be collected through recycling programs. In New York City, mixed paper and cardboard are collected separate from metals, plastics, and glass.
Follow the example this town sets, and learn more about how your community’s plans to reduce, reuse and their capabilities when it comes to recycling.