Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Japanese Garbage - Level: Hard Mode

Americans have it easy. All you have to do is toss all your trash, no matter what it is, into a large black bag and set it out on the curb or take it to the dumpster and let someone else take care of it. If it's too big to fit in the bag you still set it by the curb or the dumpster and forget about it. It only gets a little difficult if you decide to recycle. Not so in Japan.  The Japanese take their garbage disposal very seriously.  In fact, there are nine categories that you are required to sort your garbage into or else the garbage police will call you and tell you you did it wrong.

Okay, so there's no such thing as the garbage police, but it's the trash collection people who will call you.  Inou-san, the dean, emphasized this point because it would be a hassle if we did the trash wrong and then they called the hospital which would in turn call the school which would in turn get in contact with us at the apartment because we didn't sort the trash properly.  Trash is serious business.

The first group that garbage must be sorted into is "Recyclable Resources" which is split into five sub-groups which I will now quote verbatim:
Paper: Paper consists of newspapers, flyers, magazines, books, miscellaneous paper (paper boxes, wrapping paper, paper bags, memo sheets, notebooks, pamphlets, calendars, etc.), cardboard and milk cartons.
PET Bottles:  PET bottles, such as for beverages and soy sauce.
 Glass bottles:  Bottles for food and beverages.
Cans:  Aluminum and steel cans for food and beverages.
Plastic Containers/Wrapping:  Plastic bottles, such as for shampoo; plastic cartons, such as for eggs; plastic bags and wrapping for confections; plastic trays for meat and fish; Styrofoam, etc.

 Not only must you sort them into these five groups, you must also know how to dispose of them properly, which I will again quote verbatim from the packet we were given:
There are many things being thrown away that can still be reused.  Collection of recyclable resources is conducted so that such items will not be treated as garbage but handled by making the best use of them as recyclable resources.
(1) Paper (Newspapers, flyers, magazines, miscellaneous paper, books, cardboard and milk cartons) should be separated according to type and bundled with string.
(2) For PET bottles, remove the caps and labels, rinse the inside, crish them and place them in transparent bags that allow the contents to be seen, or in the specific net.  You can also dispose of these items at collection boxes in front of stores.
(3) For glass bottles, remove the caps, rinse the inside and place them in the yellow container.
(4) For cans, rinse the inside, crush them and place them in the blue container.
(5) For plastic containers/wrapping (Plastic containers/wrapping refers to plastic wrapping, containers and bags used to package foods and daily necessities, which are no longer needed after taking the product out of the packaging.  Look for this identifying mark (I've placed it to the right).), rinse lightly and place items in transparent bags that allow the contents to be seen.

Aside from these five, there are four more groups that you must sort your garbage into: combustible, noncombustible, oversized garbage, and items not collectible as oversized.  However, I don't want to make this post about garbage unbearably long because I think you get the idea.

So, you enjoy your easy American garbage while I continue to sort on my adventure in the land of the rising sun.


  1. Oh WOW!!!! I totally did not know u had to do all of those things just for trash!!! I laughed a little though, not at u! ok yes meaby a lil. But sorry u have to go tru all of that! I like reading of your adventures! Have fun seeing the good sides of things even things that are headache pounding death wishing. Sorry for my bad grammar n writting seeing that u are an english major! :) (By d by how do u crush the aluminum? was wondering)

    1. I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying reading my blog. :) And you don't need to apologize. It's alright.

      As for the aluminum, I would assume you step on it to crush it like you do for the PET bottles. Although, I rarely seen crushed cans when I take the trash out. People seem to usually just toss the can as is. However, if you're talking about aluminum foil, I'm not sure how to properly dispose of that, so right now it's just sort of sitting on my counter until I remember to ask someone.