Q: How do I sort my garbage?
A： Each district has its own detailed garbage disposal system, so it is important to check the rules of your local area for accurate instructions. There are a handful of basic, common sorting methods which I will cover here, but details such as disposal schedule, type of trash bag, labeling of trash bags, and the range of items accepted or prohibited will depend on the area in which you live.
A basic outline of garbage disposal in Yamaguchi:
1) You will have to sort your garbage by type. (In parentheses are possible Japanese labels for each division—this, too, can vary from place to place). Main divisions include: burnables (可燃ごみ・燃やせるごみ・燃えるごみ・焼却ごみ), non-burnables (不可燃ごみ・燃やせないごみ・燃えないごみ・処理困難ごみ), plastics (プラスチック容器・プラスチック類), cans (缶・缶類), glass bottles (びん・びん類), PET bottles (ペットボトル), paper (古紙・紙類) and oversize trash (粗大ごみ). Other sorting divisions found in some areas may include: hard plastics (廃プラスチック), cloth (布類), metals (金物類・金属類), glass (ガラス類) and ceramics (陶磁器). In addition, sometimes cans, bottles, paper and other recyclable types of garbage are grouped together in various combinations as recyclables (資源物・資源品). There are also some non-disposable types of garbage which the city’s garbage system will not take care of, such as large home appliances (家電) and hazardous items (有害ごみ) such as batteries and fluorescent lights.
2) What each division generally includes (check your area for exceptions and details):
- Burnables: Kitchen garbage, plant matter, tissue and paper, cloth or wooden items that cannot be recycled. Kitchen garbage should be drained of excess water content before disposal. Disposal of cooking oil may vary, but a common technique is to first soak the oil up with paper towels or newspapers and then seal inside a container that won’t leak (such as a plastic bag or a milk carton taped shut) before disposal.
- Non-burnables: Items which cannot be recycled or included in any other division, which may include: spray cans (should be punctured before disposal), video and cassette tapes, hard plastics (such as shampoo containers), ceramics, pottery, glass, light bulbs, knives, metals, razors, thermometers, and may also include batteries and fluorescent lights.
- Plastics: Plastic bags, cellophane, thin plastic containers, vinyl string, plastic caps (from glass or PET bottles), Styrofoam trays and other plastics markedプラ. Hard plastics such as detergent containers, large plastic objects and some food containers may need to be disposed of with non-burnables or may have their own division. Items that contained foods or liquids should be rinsed and dried before disposal.
- Cans: Tin and aluminum cans such as beverage and food containers, lids from other containers, and containers marked スチール or アルミ. Should be rinsed and dried before disposal. Some areas include spray cans as well (punctured before disposal).
- Glass bottles: Small to large bottles, such as beverage, food or medicine containers. Bottles should be rinsed and dried before disposal and sorted into three groups according to the color of the bottle (brown, clear, and other). Caps and lids should be removed and disposed of with plastics or non-burnables, according to your area.
- PET bottles: Plastic bottles, such as beverage containers, marked with the PET or ペット logo. Should be rinsed and dried before disposal, and the cap removed and disposed of with plastics or non-burnables, according to your area. Some places may require that you crush PET bottles before disposal.
- Paper: Newspapers (may include flyers and handouts), magazines, cardboard, milk cartons and other cartons or paper containers marked 紙パック. Items should be sorted, flattened and stacked (milk cartons should be rinsed and dried in addition), then bound with string or tape (some areas prohibit the use of tape) before disposal. Items that contain other materials (vinyl, plastic, aluminum, etc.) should be stripped of those materials, or disposed of otherwise.
- Recyclables: may include a combination of: cans, glass bottles, PET bottles, paper, Styrofoam trays, cloth items, etc.
- Oversize trash: Items that do not fit into regular trash bags or exceed a certain size, such as furniture or bicycles. There may be size restrictions and a fee for collection.
- Non-disposables: Items that the city will not collect must be brought to a recycling center, returned to the store of purchase or disposed of otherwise on your own, such as: large household appliances (refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, televisions, washing machines), computers, tires, fire extinguishers, motorcycles, car batteries, waste oil, paint cans, gas cylinders and hazardous or explosive items. May also include batteries and fluorescent lights.
3) Disposal dates not only differ from city to city, but often between neighborhoods within the same section of town as well. In general, burnables can be disposed of twice a week, plastics once a week or once every other week, and others, such as cans, bottles, paper and other recyclables, may be collected only once a month. Some areas offer regular oversize trash disposal once a month, while others require that you call ahead of time to make an appointment for pick up, and many areas charge a small fee. You will have to check with the rules of your neighborhood for these details.
If you don’t have a calendar of the specific garbage rules and disposal schedule at your home, you can ask for one at your town hall or check one of the following websites (pages are Japanese-only unless otherwise indicated).
Iwakuni: see the feature article in the October 2006 issue for instructions ENGLISH
Shunan: see the feature article in the October 2006 issue for instructions ENGLISH OR http://www.city.shunan.lg.jp/hp/recycle/
Yamaguchi City: http://www.city.yamaguchi.lg.jp/ckbunya/gomikankyoueisei/index.html
Ube: http://www.city.ube.yamaguchi.jp/english/garbage.html ENGLISH
San’yo-Onoda: http://www.city.sanyo-onoda.lg.jp/english/garbage.htm ENGLISH