Waste in Kamikatsu is separated in 34 categories!
Kamikatsu village, in the mountains of Shikoku Island in south-west Japan, declared its no-waste ambition in 2003. Before that, the prevailing waste treatment practice was dumping it into an open fire, with obvious consequences to the environment and public health. Its 1500 residents now recycle about 80 percent of their trash, with only 20 percent going to landfills, and this progress has been achieved in only 12 years! Zero Waste policy has mainly been promoted via Zero Waste Academy, an organization funded and established by local government. In Kamikatsu, there are no garbage trucks, so each resident must wash, sort, and bring his own trash to the Waste Collection Center, where workers of Zero Waste Academy oversee the sorting process, ensuring that each piece of trash goes into the right bin. The process saves the village a third of its former costs compared to waste incineration, according to Akira Sakano, Deputy Chief Officer of the organization. ‘’If you get used to it, it becomes normal’’, says a resident.
The village also has a number of “recycling stores” – known as ‘kuru-kuru’ (circular), where people can leave clothing or furniture they don't want, exchanging their old stuff for free items that others have dropped off. There's even a ‘kuru-kuru’ factory, where local women make products from discarded products, like teddy bears from old kimonos. These facilities are managed by Zero Waste Academy as well. The organization even hosts groups of visiting schoolchildren from the local area and further afield, and recently a growing level of foreign visitors and organizations. An estimated 2,500 visitors a year now travel to Kamikatsu, inspired by its waste-free aspirations.