Kamikatsu recycling is intense. Citizens are expected to separate their recycling into 45 different categories! Kamikatsu is a small town located in Tokushima prefecture in Japan. It has become a paragon of innovation in waste management and, more specifically, recycling.
How did the strict Kamikatsu recycling program begin?
They began their journey to zero waste began in 2003 when the government mandated a policy to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. The town stepped up in a big way, making its unique zero-waste initiative become a model for sustainability.
Kamikatsu’s strict recycling program requires residents to sort their waste into 45 different categories. The program is designed to maximize the amount of waste that can be recycled or reused and minimize the amount of waste that goes to landfills.
Some of the categories include:
- Paper (including newspapers, magazines, cardboard, and packaging)
- Glass bottles and jars
- Aluminum cans and foil
- Steel cans
- Plastic containers (sorted by type)
- PET bottles (sorted by color)
- Tetra Pak packaging (such as juice boxes)
- Food waste (to be composted)
- Textiles (such as clothing and fabric)
- Appliances and electronics
- Fluorescent lights
- Bulky waste (such as furniture and mattresses)
- Construction waste
Residents are even required to wash their waste before placing it into the correct bins.
What are the challenges of this type of program?
The town’s recycling facility has separate areas for each category of waste, and staff members carefully sort the materials. Of course, this comes with challenges. One is the cost of transportation – the town is in a remote location.
The second challenge is one all towns and cities face – the need to change the mindset and behavior of residents. The town has implemented a variety of programs to educate residents about the importance of waste reduction and recycling, including workshops, events, and campaigns.
However, changing deeply ingrained habits and attitudes takes time and persistence. As you might imagine, the town’s strict recycling requirements have been met with mixed reactions from residents. Some find the requirements to be burdensome and time-consuming.
Nevertheless, Kamikatsu has become a model for sustainable waste management and has earned international recognition for its sustainability project.
Originally, the goal was for Kamikatsu to become a zero-waste town by 2020. While the town did not exactly happen, it has made significant progress in reducing its waste output.
By 2020, over 80% of its waste was being recycled, composted, or reused. The town has also taken steps towards becoming carbon-neutral, building a solar power plant and financing a project to turn food waste into biogas.
In 2016, the town opened its Zero Waste Academy to educate visitors about its recycling program.
Kamikatsu’s journey towards zero waste and carbon neutrality is a glimpse into a sustainable future and an inspiration to individuals and communities around the world.