Japanese Village With “Zero Waste” Goal Recycles 80% of its Garbage

May 13, 2022

Thought Question: If you were to make one small change to reduce the amount of waste you produce, what would you do and why?

In the mountains of an island village in southern Japan, locals sort trash into 45 categories for recycling. The village’s brewhouse makes beer from leftover crops. The local hotel is decorated with reused materials. The hotel also cuts soap into small pieces so guests won’t waste it. And 40 residents share cars to ferry residents and visitors around town. The mayor is a driver for the city’s rideshare system.

The name of the town is Kamikatsu. It's aiming to get rid of all garbage by 2030. 

Unlike other much larger cities that have made “zero waste” declarations, Kamikatsu is more likely to pull it off. 1,500 people live in the island village. The town now recycles 80% of its garbage, city leaders say.

Japan is the world’s second biggest producer of plastic waste. It recycles just 20% of its garbage.

“It works because we’re only 1,500 people here. It would be difficult in a big town with a larger population” to enforce recycling rules, one resident told Agence France-Presse.

Kamikatsu vowed to become a zero-waste community in 2003. That's when a new law forced the village to shut down two incinerators that sent chemicals into the air. The town could neither afford to install cleaner ones nor carry their garbage to facilities away from town. So the village decided to produce less garbage. Recycling was their solution

The town missed its original 2020 zero-waste goal. City leaders, though, believe they'll reach it in 2030.

Good luck, Kamikatsu! 

Photo by Yuki Shimazu courtesy Wikimedia Commons. 

Which of the following issues is highlighted throughout the article? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. Kamikatsu has strategies in place to get rid of all garbage by 2030.
b. The US is the world’s biggest producer of plastic waste.
c. Kamikatsu missed its original 2020 zero-waste goal.
d. Kamikatsu vowed to become a zero-waste community in 2003.
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