In 2003, the local government in Kamikatsu, Japan decided to require that all residents comply with a new, rigorous recycling program - perhaps the most rigorous in the world.
Since then, the town
composts, recycles, or reuses 80% of its garbage. It may not technically
be 100% zero waste, as the remaining 20% goes into the landfill, but
it's a remarkable achievement for an entire community, in such a short
amount of time. The impacts have been positive - cutting costs for the
community drastically, as well as improving the conditions of the lush
and beautiful environment that surrounds the town in Southeast Japan.
must wash and sort virtually anything that is non-compostable in their
household before bringing it to the recycling sorting center. Shampoo
bottles, caps, cans, razors, styrofoam meat trays, water bottles...the
list goes on and on (literally) into 34 categories. At the sorting
center, labels on each bin indicate the recycling process for that
specific item - how it will be recycled, what it will become, and how
much that process can cost (or even earn). It's an education process for
All kitchen scraps must be composted at home, as the town has no garbage trucks or collectors.
as for other items, reuse is heavily encouraged. According to Akira
Sakano, Deputy Chief Officer at Zero Waste Academy in Kamikatsu, the
town has a kuru-kuru shop where residents can bring in used items and
take things home for free. There is also a kuru-kuru factory, where
local women make bags and clothes out of discarded items.
first, it was difficult to be come accustomed to the new rules. "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."
it's even being noticed within Kamikatsu's businesses. The first
zero-waste brewery has opened in Kamikatsu, called Rise and Win Brewery.
The brewery itself is constructed of reused materials and
environmentally friendly finishes. By 2020, Kamikatsu hopes to be 100%
zero waste, with no use of landfills, and to forge connections with
other like-minded communities in the world, spreading the practice of