Rubbish

Garbage bags lined up ready for the drop

Garbage bags lined up ready for the drop

Rubbish in Japan, particularly the big cities, is always a problem. The biggest problem is, there is a lot of it. Then there is the issue of its disposal and how to get it ready to be thrown away.

Most residents know that they have to separate out burnable from non-burnable rubbish, and put aside large items for special collection days. Depending on where you live and how strict the building manager or landlord is you may also have to put separate other types of rubbish as well.

In my apartment building the separation and preparation of rubbish is very thorough. I sometimes end up stuck in the garbage room for too long and the smell is not pleasant. Must remember, not to drop garbage in garage room just prior to lunch!!

glass, metals, china all need to be separated

glass, metals, china all need to be separated

batteries and used lighters

batteries and used lighters

Used cleaning products get their own special corner

Used cleaning products get their own special corner

large items such as computers, video machines etc can be thrown out on special days

large items such as computers, video machines etc can be thrown out on special days

Large rubbish needs a special pickup and will cost extra

Large rubbish needs a special pickup and will cost extra

newspapers, magazines, books. milk cartons separately piled

newspapers, magazines, books. milk cartons separately piled

Some of our signs are in English. It still doesnt help remind what how to separate it all. Beware the prastic goods

Some of our signs are in English. It still doesnt help remind what how to separate it all. Beware the prastic goods

the flower is a nice touch, but it still smells like a garbage room

the flower is a nice touch, but it still smells like a garbage room

plastic bottles, caps separate please and bags all have their own place

plastic bottles, caps separate please and bags all have their own place

Bottles, Cans go out on tuesday. all have to be separated

Bottles, Cans go out on tuesday. all have to be separated

i didn't arrange this neatly for the photo. This is how they were. Sprays and hangars separately arranged for disposal

i didn't arrange this neatly for the photo. This is how they were. Sprays and hangars separately arranged for disposal

You used to be able to throw out garbage in any type of plastic bag, but now, in Tokyo, garbage bags need to be see through. Companies need to buy stickers as a sort of “garbage tax” and paste them on the bag in some areas.

Garbage is a difficult subject when talking with other residents. There are those that don’t care and those that are very rigid to the rules. How is the garbage situation in your area?

Leave a Reply

  1. In my city we have to separate into paper, glass, and the rest. But I don't think anybody checks it and it would be difficult to trace garbage to the owner I think. I live in Leiden, in Holland (Europe). How do the Japanese trace garbage back to its owner? Or would neighbours talk to you if they see something in the wrong place?

    Hmm… garbage. Actually quite interesting. Thanks for the post ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sometimes residents or garbage collectors might go through the garbage to find the name of the person if there is a problem with the separation, but normally it just gets collected and taken away. If you have a strict manager in your building its best to check. Most neighbors are nice about it if you make a mistake. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Interesting. I always knew you had to sort out the milk carton, newspapers, flammable and non-flammable, but to think that there's so much more.. @.@

    • Thanks. Some place require a lot of separation, others not so much. It depends where you live. I sometimes choose what I am buying based on what rubbish comes with it. I prefer less rubbish to separate and throw away. B)

  3. Wow. I am really impressed about the way you handle rubbish. We only distinguish between paper , batteries and everything else goes into the normal bin. But this is just ridiculous. I can imagine it must take a lot of time to separate the rubbish O_o

  4. We did speak about it in (Minna no Nihongo) in fact they had a full page that showed how separate your garbage and when to dispose of it.

    Totemo muzukashi yo!

  5. actually it depends of which ward you are living in.
    i live in Adachi-ku (Toyko) and we don't have to do all that. except for (clean) pet bottles, cans & carton boxes everything else goes into the same bin.
    Adachi have a "special" incinerators that burn all kind of rubish & convert it into energy.
    http://www.city.adachi.tokyo.jp/008/d06300047.htm… (japanese)

    • I really like the look of that incinerator. I heard they have special incinerators for medical waste products also. Great idea. Saves time on separation and makes it easier for garbage collectors. Thanks for posting the link. Very interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. With all that rubbish I cant help but wonder how many hours one must spend in the garbage room per week -_- We're not so strict here in Britain. My area has a kerbside collection and we put the items for recycling into 3 containers:
    blue box = glass, cans, textiles, paper
    red box = card, cardboard
    brown bin = compostable garden waste.

    Rubbish maybe a problem in Japan (and a growing worry for many other countries), but have you heard about the rubbish crisis in Naples?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7423245.s

  7. When I started to read this article, I was surprised by the thoroughness of the sorting, however, now that I think about it, I realise that it's essential in a city such as Tokyo.

    In Britain, we separate for cardboard, paper, glass, plastic and general waste. The thing is though, unless you scrape off the stickers on bottles, or separate cellophane wrappers from cardboard boxes etc. then the waste management people can't recycle it as the component parts are not correct. Therefore, I doubt anything actually ever goes to recycle, as people can't be bothered to separate.

    With the type of meticulousness you've displayed in the pictures; it looks much more effective.

    • Thanks Ryan. My building manager (็ฎก็†ไบบ) likes things very clean. If it wasn't for the smell, you could eat in the garbage room. It is that clean. Not all garbage places are like that though. I am sure there are many good/bad stories about the garbage room in people's apartments. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. The building I used to live at had a landlady that sounds a lot like yours. She would wait on trash days to make sure we did it right. If we messed up we would be scolded. She would make me nervous about throwing anything away.