Kamikatsu is showing the way in its drive to become Japan’s first zero-waste municipality
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Spotted: Many cities talk about eventually reaching a zero-waste status, but Kamikatsu, a small town of around 1,400 people located in southwestern Japan, will become the country’s first zero-waste city. Since 1995, Kamikatsu has been giving subsidies to residents to purchase electric composters and compost bins, and in 2003 the town became the first in Japan to make a ‘zero waste declaration’.
Every resident of Kamikatsu takes zero-waste seriously. Non-organic waste is washed at home and taken to the Hibigatani Waste and Resource Station, where residents segregate it into 34 separate categories, including aluminium cans, steel cans, paper cartons and paper flyers. Around 80 per cent of the town’s waste is now recycled, reused or composted.
The town also has a kuru-kuru (‘circular’) store where people can leave goods, such as clothing and furniture, that they no longer want and exchange them for other goods. More than 15 tonnes of items are brought into the shop each year, and a local factory manufactures products, such as teddy bears, from old materials.
In 2016, Kamikatsu enacted a ‘Zero Waste Accreditation System’ to certify stores and encourage customers to reward certified businesses with their patronage. A Zero Waste Academy also offers advice and help to residents who want to live a zero-waste lifestyle. The town spends around €50,000 each year on waste management and earns around €26,000 from recycling, which helps offset the costs.
The number of cities and countries pledging to become zero-waste continues to increase, and at Springwise we are covering many innovations that could help. These have included zero-waste toothpaste and a Finnish restaurant that cooks gourmet dishes using food waste.