Welcome to Kamikatsu, a small town that is located in the mountains of Shikoku Island in south-west Japan. The residents of Kamikatsu have to segregate their trash into 45 different categories and then have to drop it off at the waste collection center. The waste collection center features different bins for different kinds of products including newspaper, magazines, cartons, metal caps, plastic bottles, spray cans, aluminum cans, fluorescent lights, and so on. While this may sound like an overkill, the town of Kamikatsu is actually on a mission; to become a zero-waste town and has already managed to reduce their waste by 80%!
Things were not like this always, and there was a time when the residents of Kamikatsu disposed of their trash like any other town did; it was either dumped in nature or burned at home. However, the town decided to introduce the concept of ‘zero waste’ back in 2003. It was difficult for everyone in the beginning, but over time the people have come to accept it as a way of life. The rules are plenty and include tasks such as taking the caps off of the bottles and making sure that plastic bottles for soy sauce and cooking oil are kept separate from Pet bottles that had green tea or mineral water.
There are no garbage trucks, and people of Kamikatsu have to bring their own trash down to the recycling center. The workers at the center then make sure that the trash has been sorted properly. Jewelry used clothes, and other items that are no longer required are also dropped off at the recycling store and exchanged with items that others have dropped off without any extra cost whatsoever. A local factory located close to the recycling center creates items from unwanted goods.
Residents of Kamikatsu have begun to look at their trash differently. They are more conscious of what they buy, how they use it, and how they dispose of it. Over the course of only 16 years, the town of over 1,700 residents has managed to drop its waste down by 80%. Only 20% of the waste now goes to the landfill, and the town is hopeful that it will be able to eliminate that as well by 2020.