Examples of Waste Management in Japan (1997-2001)


Hari Srinivas
Case Study Series E-041. June 2015


  • Recycle tote bag
    Sapporo City and the local Lions Club designed and distributed special tote bags to encourage people to carry recyclables to market with them when they go shopping. Many supermarkets collect styrofoam trays, paper milk cartons, plastic grocery bags and even empty cans.

  • Ibaraki recycling
    Pay by the bag garbage collection is catching on all over the country. In Ibaraki prefecture a coalition of seven communities is improving their recycling and waste handling by requiring residents to put out garbage in special bags.

  • Citizen payoff
    In Kumamoto City in Kyushu, the city has been paying registered citizen groups 3 yen/kg for collecting paper, glass, cans, etc. The 586 registered groups collected over 7300 tons in the ten month period ending last June. In addition, since the program's introduction, the city's regular recycling collection service has experienced a 20% jump in volume. Officials feel the program has been successful not only in reducing waste but in changing the public's awareness regarding recycling.

  • Waste reduction coalition
    In Yokohama, the nation's third largest city, a coalition of 38 groups representing citizens, business and government formed a city-wide group for waste reduction and recycling promotion. It's the first of its kind in the nation. The city already has ward-level groups with a similar purpose so the new group will serve as an umbrella and help coordinate activities among the ward-level groups.

  • Waste Exchange
    As of 1991 there were fourteen industrial waste exchanges in Japan, the first one having been established in Kanagawa prefecture in 1987. Hokkaido came on line with it's program last year and already has had over 1000 inquiries. The exchange, a prefecture-sponsored project, publishes a booklet twice a year and provides a telephone referral service.

  • Alternate pulp
    Paper products made from waste corn and sugar cane are slowly finding their way into conventional markets. Stores in Kyoto are stocking notepaper and stationery made from corn waste and some department stores are using sugar cane paper for shopping bags.

  • Waste reduction
    Aichi prefecture has joined the ranks of government entities forming Garbage Reduction Commissions. The Aichi version is made up of various local governments and citizen groups and plans to undertake at least five different projects including: utilization of collected household recyclables, litter, especially empty cans, appropriate dispasal methods for large garbage items, and using special garbage bags.

  • Construction waste
    The Construction Ministry is setting up an information service for the re-use of waste construction materials. They are starting out with concrete and if that is successful, they will add more materials. Other major components are asphalt, dirt and wood. In 1990, the industry generated 76 million tons of waste nationally, which represents 20% of the entire industrial waste stream.

  • Recycled goods
    One fourth of all supermarkets in Hokkaido have special "recycled goods" sections. Main items are toilet paper, notebooks, aluminum foil and other foil-type products, garbage bags, etc.

  • Buy green
    The Environment Ministry has been providing assistance for governmental agencies to join the Buy Green Network to buy "earth-friendly" recycled items, including toilet paper, copy paper, paper clips, pencils, soap, vacuum bags, etc.

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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org