I don’t know if Japan has this service but I thought the US postal service is doing the world a favor by creating “Mail Back”. Mail Back allows you to dump your old useless, broken technological gadgets in the mail. And it’s free. Postage paid envelopes can be picked up from all post offices for you to mail in your old junk. After that, it’s taken to Clover Technologies Group for recycling.
SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. — Just when you thought technology was making “snail mail” obsolete, the U.S. Postal Service announces a vital new service that lets you recycle cell phones, iPods and other electronics — as well as printer inkjet cartridges — via mail. For free!
To use the “Mail Back” program, find one of the 1,500 post offices that offers special free envelopes. Drop in your recyclable electronics item, and mail it without postage. It goes to Clover Technologies Group, which recycles, remanufactures and remarkets inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics.
Best of all, for those of us who live on the road, you can take as many “Mail Back” envelopes as you please, and use them to mail your electronics from anywhere. It’s a great idea to tuck one into your carry-on laptop bag. When something dies on the road, you can drop it in the envelope and give it to your hotel’s front desk to mail — no need to carry the extra weight home.
I know what you guys are thinking…why would I write about how to dispose your garbage? Well, throwing garbage into the bins of your house is easy but if you’re a foreigner, you might wonder where you’re gonna get rid of the garbage bag when its full.
Garbage Collection Sign
Well, in Japan, garbage is separated into three section, burnable, non-burnable and recyclable. You can find at least two kinds of disposable bins in most household. Garbage collection times depends on where you live. Signs in the neighborhood inform residents about the weekdays on which what type of garbage is collected. Burnable garbage is usually collected on two or three days during the week, while non burnable garbage is usually collected once a week.
The disposal of large sized garbage such as furniture, bicycles and electric appliances is handled by a special collection service against a pick-up fee, usually on an appointment basis. Toxic and hazardous items should also be handled separately.
Source: Japan Guide
Why would anyone post about garbage trucks?
Well, they are pretty unique in Japan. They are – first of all – TINY because they need to be to get through the many narrow, winding streets that makes up Tokyo suburbia.
Secondly, and more uniquely, they play this happy, cheerful music as they go, giving you the feeling that you should run for the ice-cream truck. They don’t do early morning runs like back home, thankfully, so they make a good 11am wake up call. But still, the music is bizarre. And catchy. I’ve caught myself humming it some days.
Not all trucks play music, it should be pointed out. Some are simply a recorded announcement played again and again. What they say is beyond my comprehension, but my best educated guess is that it’s extolling the city government’s disposal program.
The garbage disposal method is interesting. I live in Yokohama so we have the insane recycling program to contend with. But even in other prefectures, the garbage is left in their bags under nets on the side of the street (to stop crows and strays getting at it). Japan is a relatively clean country, when you think about how many people live here – but one thing that often gets to me is the smell. I think that if they tried using BINS for that garbage, they wouldn’t have the crow or smell problem anymore.
Ha, but then, how could they inspect our garbage to make sure that we’ve properly sorted everything?
I live in Yokohama, which has an insane recycling program. The Yokohama City Government decided that they want to reduce the amount of waste from Yokohama by 30% of the 2001 levels. They hope to acheive this by 2010. Admirable, and yet somewhat scary.
We have four garbage bins in our apartment. The are roughly divided into Household Garbage (burnable), Plastics, PET & Glass Bottles & Cans and Paper.
But it gets more complicated than that. For example, the labels and baps from PET bottles should be put into the Plastics bin and the Paper needs to be sorted into three piles: Newspapers, Cardboard and Other Printed Materials.
There are some non-burnable items which need to be bagged separately, such as ceramics and batteries. Then there’s the Metal Items Smaller Than 30cm category which thankfully I havent’t had to think about yet.
Yokohama City Government released a 13-page booklet complete with cute pictures (as do all manuals and guides in Japan), describing in detail how to recycle. It’s quite a lot of work, especially when the paper needs sorting, all the cartons need cutting and bottles need cleaning.
There are many stories floating around of how garbage that hasn’t been properly sorted gets dumped back on their owner’s doorstep by vindictive neighbours who will actually go through your garbage to ascertain your identity.
One of my students complained to me that her water bill has gone up ever since the recycling program started.
Oh well. Japan doesn’t have a water crisis like Australia. It does have an air pollution problem though. And I guess the less garbage incinerated, the better.
How to Put Out Your Garbage & Recyclables – Yokohama City Goverment (in English)