LWIF EP28: Becoming a Japanese Waste Management Specialist

Little did Aiko know, that instead of making a video about recycling, she was training to become a Japanese Waste Management Specialist.

For an excellent post on Japan’s recycling and burning of waste, Tofugu has a pretty good article on it. One thing you’ll learn is that not all goods, even if they’re separated from the general trash, will be recycled. This is due to the way Japan incinerates items.

Something that’s often pointed out, is that Japanese goods tend to have a lot of packaging. Something will be wrapped in plastic, and then put in another plastic bag, and then in a box. After living here a few years, I kind of get some of the reasons why. Part of it can be attributed to presentation, and another part to making sure food items are as fresh as possible. One piece of solace that I can gave to those who think Japan has too much packaging, is that I find the weights (or gauges) of the materials tend to be thinner than what I’m accustomed to in Canada.

Some people ask why there are so few trash cans in Tokyo/Japan. If you search the Internet, you find a few different answers, but the most popular seems to be because of a sarin gas attack in 1995. So, without a lot of trash cans, what do you do when you’re out and about? You carry your trash with you and dispose of it at a convenience store or at home. When we do a family outing, I usually have a backpack with me and make sure to have a spare plastic bag ready for any trash we might create.

I’ve heard people say that Japan is so clean. It’s funny, because after living here for a few years I can find plenty of examples where Japan is not so clean. But when I visit other places, I understand once again why people say Japan is a clean place. Japan isn’t spotless, but on the whole it’s quite clean. I think a big part of it is the personal responsibility that people have. This works out in people not littering in the first place, but also in that staff feel it’s their responsibility to keep the places they work at clean.

How do you deal with waste where you’re from?