As previously discussed in our post about manners, Japanese Manners For Travel To Japan!, proper disposal of trash is very important in Japan, However, most first-timers to Japan don’t know how to throw trash right, and if you are staying in Japan for an extended period of time in an AirBnB or rental, then it is going to be your responsibility. So here is everything you need to know.
Categories of Trash
Combustible trash or burnable trash, is generally collected twice a week. It includes paper waste (toilet paper, kitchen rolls, diapers), plastic bags and wrappers (food wrappers, candy wrappers, grocery bags), rubber and leather (bags, shoes, slippers, boots), tubes and other plastic containers (toothpaste containers, cooking oil containers, soy sauce containers, ketchup containers, margarine containers, yogurt containers).
Incombustible or non-burnable trash is generally collected once a month. It includes long plastics (plastic cords, hoses, rope) other plastics (cassette and video tapes–if you still have some!), ceramics (teacups, plates, flower pots, etc.), metals, glass (vases, glasses), and small appliances (flat iron, radio cassette, rice cooker, etc.).
- Over-sized Garbage
This includes home furniture such as cupboards, bookshelves, sofas, beds, tables, and other trash, such as golf bags, stuffed toys over 50 centimeters, bicycles, motorcycles below 60cc, electric fans, vacuums, carpets, and beddings.
- Bottles and Cans
Bottles include empty glass containers (remove the caps!), tin cans, and aluminum cans (juice and beer cans). These must be put in a separate garbage bag. Pet bottles (with the number 1 inside a triangle symbol) must also be in a separate garbage bag, with caps removed, washed and cleaned, and compressed (by stepping on it).
- Old Clothes and Used Papers
Books, newspapers, magazines, and cardboard are usually collected once or twice a month. You should tie these items with a rope, so they are nice and compact. Old clothes can also be recycled. Just place them inside a see-through plastic bag so waste collectors can easily see the contents.
- Different categories of trash go into different colored bags. Each city, and even some prefectures within one city, has different bag colors for each category. So it is essential that you find out which colors are used in the city you are in. Easy way to do this is to find a supermarket or convenience store, and they will have the bags you need.
- Different categories of trash are collected on different days, so you also have to figure-out the rules for the city and area you are in. Luckily, most areas where you drop-off your garbage have a list of the days each category is collected. So just head towards the dumpster area!
- Be aware that there are fees to dispose of certain items, such as televisions, air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators and such. You also have to place a special sticker on the item, so the trash collectors know that you paid for the disposal already. If you are just visiting Japan, I don’t think you will be worried about this, but you never know!
- Used cooking oil must be hardened and thrown away as combustible garbage. Don’t pour it down the sink or out in the alley!
- Remember the 3 Rs–Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Don’t just throw everything away. If you can reuse something, then try and do so.
- Generally, trash is collected between 8am and 10am, so you need to make sure you have your trash ready and placed in the proper location before 8am to be safe.
So be sure to follow these easy rules and you will be doing your part to keep Japan clean for everyone else to enjoy!