Japan’s Town With Zero Waste – Kamikatsu

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Kamikatsu (上勝町Kamikatsu-chō) is a town located in Katsuura District, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan. As of 1 September 2020, the town had an estimated population of 1,344 and a density of 12.3 persons per km². The total area is 109.63 km².

Kamikatsu is a “zero waste” town, all household waste is separated into 45 different categories and sent to be recycled. In 2008, a poll showed that 40% of residents were still unhappy about the aspect of the policy that required items to be washed. But the town continues the policy as it is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than purchasing an incinerator. The Town recycles about 80% of its waste. The town has set a goal to become fully zero waste by 2020.

The village of Kamikatsu in Japan has taken their commitment to sustainability to a new level. While the rest of the country has a recycling rate of around 20 percent, Kamikatsu surpasses its neighbors with a staggering 80 percent.

After becoming aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide associated with burning garbage, the town instated the Zero Waste Declaration with the goal of being completely waste-free by 2020.

How Kamikatsu goes ” Zero-Waste”?

Products containing parts that belong to two or more different categories need to be taken apart, and separated accordingly in the allocated collection bins that then get sent for recycling. Plastic food wrappers must be washed before being thrown out, while waste paper should be bundled up using upcycled twine made from old milk cartons. Different types of glass and plastic are sorted by colour.

Residents are also incentivised to avoid single-use products through a scheme that rewards consumers points when they refuse disposable plastic items. The points can then be collected and used to buy other reusable items.

The remainder of the items that Kamikatsu residents have found too difficult to recycle – primarily due to products that have been manufactured in other regions of Japan or are imported from abroad – are then finally sent to an incinerator located in another town. These efforts have drastically reduced the amount of waste the village created – in 2016, Kamikatsu recycled 81% of all the waste it produced, far exceeding the national average of 20%.

Kamikatsu’s achievements has demonstrate to the world that going zero waste is possible, let us try a small step to go into zero waste!

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