How is 100% recycling of Japanese garbage done?

Japan’s waste sorting ability is extremely high, and to achieve this extreme, they have spent nearly 50 years. Today, Japan has almost 100% recycling of garbage. The formation of this kind of social fashion depends not only on advanced technology, but on the awe of the whole people’s awe of the environment and the “small things start from me”.

A fierce protest, the garbage problem is around everyone
The implementation of Japanese waste sorting has been going on for a long time. At the citizen level, there was a sense of garbage sorting, which began with garbage disposal activities in various parts of Japan. Among them, the representative trigger event was the “garbage war” that occurred in Tokyo in 1971.

At that time, all the garbage in Tokyo was sent to the garbage incineration plant concentrated in the Bay Area of ​​Jiangdong District for disposal. However, because the garbage was not classified, the kitchen waste contained high water content, and it was difficult to completely burn, resulting in a large amount of black. Smoke has caused serious air pollution and health problems in the Bay Area.

In order to alleviate the burden on the Bay Area, various districts in Tokyo are trying to build waste incineration plants in their own areas. Suginami District also planned to build a garbage incineration plant, but it was not built due to opposition from the public. As a result, a large amount of garbage was urgently needed to be transported to Jiangdong District. This was rejected by the people in Jiangdong District. They initiated protests together with the district head, which eventually caused confusion and became the famous “Tomago garbage war” incident.

In fact, emergency environmental problems caused by garbage disposal occurred throughout Japan. It is precisely because of this fierce protest that the people realized that the garbage problem is around everyone and reached a consensus that the garbage problem needs everyone to bear it fairly, and the garbage from the district is not taken to other districts. To deal with it, it is necessary to establish a waste treatment plant in the area, including the more prosperous areas such as Shibuya and Ikebukuro, as well as its own garbage disposal equipment and treatment plant.

The recovered garbage is incinerated, which can greatly reduce the amount of garbage. However, if the garbage is directly incinerated without being classified, it will bring many problems: the moisture of the kitchen waste will cause it to be incombustible, and the black smoke containing the pollutants will be produced; if the plastic products are mixed in the garbage, it will cause carcinogenic dioxin; The metal is mixed in the garbage, melts during the combustion process, and sticks to the bottom of the burning furnace, causing new troubles.

Through publicity, Japan has gradually formed and strengthened the awareness of garbage sorting and recycling at the citizen level. Before building a waste incineration plant, the government will also explain to the public and ensure that the waste collected from the classified waste will not pollute the environment after incineration. In response to the burning pollution that the public is most worried about, the government will regularly check the substances in the chimney and publish the data to the public in detail.

After decades of efforts, Japan’s garbage disposal has become cleaner and more efficient, and many waste incineration plants have gradually shut down.

From five categories to hundreds of categories, one thousand times a year garbage sorting briefing session
Japan’s waste sorting is extremely “rigorous”, and to achieve this extreme, they spent nearly fifty years.

Hiroshima is the first area in Japan to carry out garbage sorting. At first, the garbage was divided into kitchen waste and other garbage, which later became combustible and non-burnable. As for how to classify garbage, local residents have also had a long period of chaos.

Tokyo first tried to implement garbage sorting in the 1930s, and it was interrupted for some reason. According to records, in order to let the public figure out how to classify garbage, the government held thousands of dialogues and briefings in the first three months, involving about 110,000 people.

With the acceleration of urbanization, the amount of garbage produced in major cities such as Tokyo is increasing, so that the space of landfills is seriously insufficient. In order to reduce waste and improve resource utilization from the source, in the 1970s, Japan spent nearly 50 years to gradually refine the garbage classification method to permeate every family and every citizen.

From the initial classification of garbage into five categories – combustible garbage, non-burnable garbage, resource-based garbage, large-scale garbage and hazardous waste, they have further refined the classification into hundreds.

Take Japan’s environmentally friendly city, Kitakyushu, as an example. In 1993, it began to recycle cans and bottles. In 1997, plastic bottles were sorted and recycled. In 2002, fluorescent tubes were set up for recycling. Since then, they have nearly ten kinds of paper and waste batteries. The resources of value have also been classified and recycled.

The local self-government associations often organize joint garbage collection briefings with local governments and schools to publicize and popularize the meaning of garbage recycling, and also regularly distribute brochures to surrounding residents.

Now, all parts of Japan have their own garbage collection manuals. The Fukuoka City Family Waste Regulations Manual has a total of eight pages, detailing the garbage disposal regulations and classification methods; the household waste classification manual of Yamato City, Kanagawa Prefecture uses 14 pages to classify and recycle up to 700 kinds of garbage; Yokohama The city’s waste sorting manual is 27 pages long, and housewives usually put a manual in the kitchen and read it at any time.

Advocate to regain “2R” and consider reducing and recycling from the source of the product
The recycling society advocates 3R: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. However, when dealing with garbage collection, people once only paid attention to the last “R” and ignored the first two “R”. To this end, Japan has tried to advocate “regaining 2R” in recent years.

Some environmental protection agencies and organizations are working hard to promote the participation of relevant enterprises in the “2R” activities, from the source of packaging to consider how to more convenient waste separation and recycling, and advocate the public to improve the reuse rate of goods. For example, the old cardboard gift box can be used as a storage box for storing stationery, cosmetics, socks, etc., and the waste cardboard can be transformed into a pet toy. Japanese housewives will put a plastic box containing vegetables and fruits in the supermarket, wash it and send it back to the supermarket for reuse.

In household waste in Japan, food packaging and various plastic containers and products account for about 60%. In order to better recycle and dispose of plastic waste, Japan issued the “Practical Framework for Reuse of Plastic Containers and Packaging” in 1997, calling on consumers, industry and government to collaborate and recycle and utilize plastic resources.

Japanese chemical manufacturer Showa Denko is a pioneer in the plastic recycling industry. The company built a plastic recycling plant in 7.4 billion yen in 2003. They use pyrolysis and vaporization technology to achieve zero-emission recycling of plastic products.

Toyo cans, a large-scale packaging and polyester (PET) bottle manufacturer, opened a recycling plant in 2008, which can recycle 27,000 tons of PET bottles each year. The source of these PET bottles is mainly in the Kanto region centered on Tokyo. Waste PET bottles can be regenerated into organic compounds for the synthesis of PET through complex polymerization and purification processes. In 2016, this technology won the Resource Recycling Technology and System Award from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

As crude oil prices continue to rise and raw material costs continue to rise, the recycling of waste paper also highlights value. The recycling method of waste paper is simple, which not only helps to save energy, but also achieves waste reduction.

In Japan, the garbage disposal station is called a “resource recycling station”. After the garbage is sorted, it is turned into waste. Some are used for thermal power generation. Some are used to build steam swimming pools. Metals are extracted from garbage to make raw materials, and the remaining garbage is used for paving and reclamation.