Waste sorting is the 1st step of recycling. Thanks to proper separation, less waste goes to landfill, and more material can be effectively recycled. Sorting at source (i.e. at household level) makes recycling easier, cheaper and increases the awareness of the population.
The Japanese village of Kamikatsu has introduced a “Zero Waste” program. The townspeople have to separate their waste into 45 categories, with the objective to become completely waste-free by 2020.
Japan Will Recycle Old Mobile Phones into Medals for the Toyko Olympic Games
Urban Mining is the process of recovering materials from product waste, instead of digging for new natural resources. Electrical and Electronic Equipment (PC, mobile phones, etc.) contain high concentrations of valuable materials (such as iron, copper, aluminum), precious metals (like gold, silver, platinum and palladium) and rare earth elements.
The organizers of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo (Tokyo 2020) plan to produce the gold, silver, and bronze medals using recycled metals from discarded mobile phones and appliances donated by the public.
Saitama Woman Turns Maligned Waste Disposal Firm into Recycling Powerhouse
Not only products and packaging go to the recycle bin… also houses! Construction and Demolition Waste represent a huge amount of materials that also need to be collected, treated and recycled.
Ishizaka Sangyo Co., Ltd. (石坂産業株式会社) has developed “Nothing to Waste” technologies to recover resources from industrial waste, and move away from the customary practices of incinerating or landfilling.
In addition to its core activity of waste management, the plant features energy-saving technologies, reuse rainwater, etc. while the innovative management style promotes a close relationship with the community, educational activities as well as women empowerment.
As a result of its efforts, the company has been awarded 7 international standards for its management practices and obtained the Hospitality Award from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).¹
Can to Can
In Japan, over 60% of aluminum cans are recycled into more aluminum cans. The video (left side in Japanese) explains this “can to can” cycle from the collection of empty containers by communities to the filling of new ones.
Food Loss / Waste is an Environmental Problem As Well as an Ethical Issue
Although Japan has a low self-sufficiency rate, million tons of food get discarded yearly. The exigency for freshness and somewhat unclear labeling are often pointed out as explaining factors.
Lawson Inc. one of Japan’s leading convenience store chain has launched several initiatives to reduce leftover and make the best out of the discarded food and oil². For example, the company implemented a recycling loop in which food waste becomes fertilizer that will help grow vegetables that will be sold in their stores, or feed for pigs that will be then marketed as pork delicatessen (ham, sausages, etc.). Used cooking oil can be processed into livestock feed additive, biodiesel fuel, or additive-free soap.
1. Japan Times “Saitama woman turns maligned waste disposal firm into recycling powerhouse” 09 July 2017
2. Japan Times “Lawson to expand food waste recycling program to central Japan” 19 September 2017