Kamikatsu - A Zero-Waste Town in Japan
Updated: Jan 7, 2021
With the large consumption of plastic in nearly every aspect of our society, sometimes it's difficult to imagine how we would function without creating mass waste. However, just because it is not imaginable, doesn't mean it can't happen.
Kamikatsu is a small village in Japan that took its commitment to the sustainable living movement and brought it to a whole new level.
The Japanese city’s zero-waste journey began in 2000, when they had to stop incinerating waste because of the levels of dioxin emission generated and the damage caused to the nature. Since then, Kamikatsu has created a sorting garbage system with more than 45 recycling categories.
By 2016, the average recycling rate of the city was a staggering 81%. The average recycling rate in other areas of Japan was 20%. That's 4 times more!
The city even created a “Zero-waste Academy” to guide people and communities through the change of perspective and actions into a greener planet.
Kamikatsu also had a Zero-Waste Declaration in hopes of becoming COMPLETELY WASTE-FREE by 2020 through garbage sorting and a recycling program. Even though this goal was not achieved due to some obstacles related to regulations, it is already a huge step forward.
It is important for us to be aware that simple recycling DOES NOT help us achieve the same goal. The reasons why Kamikatsu can achieve such a high recycling rate is because they have OVER 45 CATEGORIES of heavily regulated recycling bins, whereas most other countries only have 3 or 4.
More Important recycling facts:
1. We don't have enough bin categories. Meaning that the majority of "recycled" waste is actually not recycled at all in the end!
2. There is not enough education about it. Many people wrongly categorize waste, causing recycling companies to discard the whole bin completely.
3. Products often can't be recycled because they are made up of more than one material.
Recycling companies end up not separating these different materials since it would take too much work and energy (e.g., chips bags, toothbrushes, razors, boxes with labels, etc.)
4. It is easier to regulate a town of around 1.300 residents, but very had for larger cities with billions of people.