Sorting Garbage in Japan

Due to the fact that Japan is such a small island, the country can’t afford to have huge tracts of land devoted to landfills. So the sorting of trash is a very important part of Japanese life and one that Japanese people will expect foreigners to follow. When you sort trash incorrectly, it reflects not only on you but also on your household or, in the student’s case, on their college. There is an unspoken belief among many Japanese people that foreigners can’t sort their garbage properly and it is important to institutions like the colleges you attend that you do your part to combat this stereotype. However, the process can get a bit complicated and mistakes are easy to make if you haven’t grown up sorting your garbage so meticulously.

Check out the picture below for details on sorting your garbage.

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Sorting trash in Hikone

Bags for Burnable Items
Bags for Burnable Items

JCMU is located in Hikone and the city has its own specially marked bags and rules. These bags can be bought at both Beisia and Cainz, the large department stores/supermarkets located about a 15 minute bike ride away from JCMU. More information will be provided to students during orientation and students can expect to receive a guide to trash sorting from JCMU.

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Bags for Plastics

The basic three main classifications are burnable garbage, nonburnable garbage, and large items. Burnables include things like paper, organic products, and cloth. Certain burnable things like cardboard boxes and small sticks must be flattened and tied up before you throw them away. There is a special plastic trash bag you can buy that is marked as burnable trash by brown writing and pictures of various burnable things.

Ceramics, glass, hard plastics bag
Ceramics, glass, hard plastics bag

Nonburnable garbage can be split into multiple categories but the main ones are ceramics and other, dry cell batteries, cans and metal, glass, plastics, and plastic bottles. Plastic bottles are sorted separately from the rest of the plastics. Any bottles marked with the PET logo are thrown away in a separate bin. Any other plastics including those with the PURA logo go into the special trash bag marked with the orange writing “Plastic Only.” Fortunately, garbage bags are marked in both English and Japanese. Note that most PET bottles have PURA labels and caps. So you have to take off the label and cap to throw away separately before you dispose of the bottle itself. Most bottle labels are perforated to help this process along.

Lastly, there are large ticket items such as bicycles, appliances, and furniture. These require you to call ahead and obtain a ticket. The center will then come to pick up your large garbage. At the beginning and end of the semester, JCMU often orders a large dumpster for unsorted garbage and large items to help the students who are moving out and need to clear out their rooms.

JCMU’s trash bins are located behind the building next to the bike garage. The bins for ceramics and other, cans and metal, and glass are located together. Further down you will find larger dumpster-like containers. One is for your bag of burnables. Another is for PURA and other plastics. The last bins are for PET bottles only.

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