Six tips for sorting your trash in Yurihama (ゴミ分別のコツ)

2013.10.03 (Thu)

If you’ve spent time in Japan, you’ll know that people have a serious preoccupation with sorting the trash. Or rubbish, as I prefer to call it. Whether you call it trash, rubbish, waste, garbage or something else, working out what goes where – and when – can be tricky.

Tip 1: Get to know your types of garbage

Your local council will have a brochure about the process. It’s worth the five or ten minutes to read it and understand the different types of trash. In Yurihama, there are eight different types : recyclable, burnable, non-burnable, oversized burnable, oversized non-burnable, steel cans and spray cans, glass bottles, and aluminium cans. You can get an English language flyer explaining the categories from the council.

Tip 2: Get to know the garbage dates

In Yurihama, burnable waste is picked up twice a week (three times a week in July and August). Other types of garbage are collected monthly, or in the case of oversized garbage, only twice a year. A collection schedule comes out each April. Get the English language version from the council, and put it somewhere easy to see.

Tip 3: You can’t just chuck it in the bin

Sure, it’s trash, but that doesn’t mean you can just chuck it out. Generally, things that are to be recycled, like aluminium cans, milk cartons, plastic PET bottles and foam trays, are to be rinsed and dried before you put them in the recycling. This makes for an easier time with the recycling, and as an added bonus it makes your storage of these items until their once-a-month pickup day a little nicer.

Tip 4: Get the right bag for the job

Yurihama Town Council sells specific plastic bags for burnable waste. The bags are transparent, and have a space for writing your name. The cost is 30 yen for a large bag and 25 yen for a small one. They are available in supermarkets and other shops around town, as well as directly from the council. Your burnable garbage can only be picked up if it is in one of these bags. You generally don’t use a bag for your recyclables – paper and cardboard is tied up with string, and other recyclables are put straight into the collection boxes or nets.

Tip 5: Find your local collection point

Your neighbourhood will have a local garbage collection point. It may just be a designated spot, but often it will be a small shed with a lockable door. The job of unlocking the door (usually the day before or the morning of collection) and locking it up again (after collection and a quick clean of the shed) passes from household to household during the year. This is where you take your separated, cleaned trash in the proper bag.

Tip 6: Everyone finds it tricky

If you’re feeling confused about all of this, don’t worry too much. Everyone finds it tricky – so much so that the council has a phone number you can call if you’re unsure what to do with a particular piece of trash. And it publishes the answers to those questions on the website (http://www.yurihama.jp/page.cgi?p=7834 , Japanese only). If you’re stuck, just ask!


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