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A Complete How-To Guide to Japan’s INSANE Recycling System

November 17, 2018


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Wow. What a freaking long video…about recycling. Kudos to those of you who watched the entire thing. You must be real recycling aficionados. True garbage otakus. Well, I hope this video lives up to your standards, because it’s just so long. And I still feel like we missed out on a lot.

But we did get most of it, I think. And even if we didn’t, the fact that this video is so long still gets the point across that Recycling and Garbage disposal in Japan are a big deal. I remember we were watching a TV show once in which Japanese people were asked how they would feel about more foreigners moving into the country, and majority of the people interviewed had no worries at all, except for one older man, who was worried that foreigners wouldn’t be able to adapt to Japan’s culture. Recycling culture that is. It’s very complicated he said, and oh boy is he right.

HEY YOU! FOREIGNER! Take the time to recycle properly when you’re here. Yes, it’s intimidating. We know. Even after almost three years in Japan we know. But we still try, while we’ve met some people that don’t try and they just throw everything in the garbage, which I think is a shame. I don’t know what it’s like in your country, but it wasn’t like this in Canada. When we went back to visit this summer we were shocked at just how much gets thrown into the bin, and how the garbage bags are huge. I would kind of miss recycling if I went back to Canada. I like feeling like I’m doing something sorta right, sorta. I hope it’s right at least.

Do let us know what recycling is like where you’re from. We’re interested to compare what it’s like. Is there something your country does better? Worse? I don’t know if there’s a perfect system for garbage, but I really like what we’ve got here in Japan, even if it’s complicated.

Otherwise, if you found this video somewhat entertaining rather than just informative, yet you find yourself still craving more entertainment, don’t worry: we didn’t dispose of our cut out clips. We washed them under the sink, separated the caps from the labels, and then put them together in a blooper reel below. Check em out!




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Food Adventure,TL;DR


A Complete How-To Guide to Japan’s INSANE Recycling System


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  1. It’s so awesome seeing how recycling is different in the many parts of the world! (Never thought those words would ever come out of my mouth )
    I hadn’t thought much about it until I moved from Canada to Israel and saw how different recycling is here (pretty non-existent). Japan is definitely setting the bar up high~ how wonderful!

    2 years ago
  2. I was hoping one day you will make video like this. I’m happy that you did. In Poland recycling is not as complicated as in Japan. Not to mention at my workplace cleaning ladies take all segregated garbage and dump them at one bag. I saw garbage man doing the same thing. So the system is not pefect, but I have to say it’s getting better eg. they made recycling obligatory for every household.

    2 years ago
  3. I truly salute the people living in Japan for the level of commitment to recycling. It’s wonderful how hard the people are trying to keep the country clean. But with the recent updates regarding recycling, I think there is a need for all of us to shift from being ‘committed recyclers’ to maybe… let’s use less plastic and all things else which we have been thinking ‘It’s recycable!’.

    Because, despite all the effort, they might not actually make it to be recycled.

    Check out these articles (mighty lengthy,I’m afraid but..please try?)

    Why the world’s recycling system stopped working

    China’s ban on trash imports shifts waste crisis to Southeast Asia

    An excerpt,because I know they are really flippin long,-
    “Eric Kawabata, general manager for Asia-Pacific with TerraCycle, a US-based recycling company, says the China ban has created a “global crisis in plastic waste”. Japan, where he is based, was a big exporter to China before the ban. “Now all this trash is building up in Japan and there’s nothing to do with it; the incinerators are working at full capacity,” he says.”

    I’m from Malaysia. I personally find recycling here a bit of a joke because most people are just not bothered and no one is going to fine you for not properly disposing trash or recycling. Where I live,there is a 3 compartment cage by the roadside for people to drop off their recyclables. Most of the time items are not sorted accordingly and not cleaned but it is not the worst because I have seen some cages which look more like dumpsters. I have a strong feeling the items from these cages eventually just go into landfills.

    I will never stop being impressed by how the Japanese are so disciplined with handling their trash. But I think we all need to think twice before getting that drink from the vending machine.

    2 years ago
  4. Hi, I like the T-shirt design a lot! So cute!
    Anyway, I feel so sorry that you are obsessed with paper bag, I’m not a resident in Kichijyouji, but I don’t have any paperbag stocks, I make a kind of papar bag-ish thing by myself by using news paper you’ve red already, or big flier posted in your mailbox.
    Newspaper; As 1 sheet is so weak, use 4 of 5 sheets. Fold the center and seal the tape on both side, and put the paper garbage in it, then seal the top as you did to paper bag.
    You know that you can buy English newspaper at the station stand, about 150 yen.

    Or you can check how to make paper bags by newspaper or fliers.

    Good Luck !

    2 years ago