Thursday, February 18, 2010

Won't Miss #127 - complex trash handling rules

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The trash handling rules in Japan are notorious among members of the foreign community for their fussiness and complexity. While it may seem that this is just a language or cultural problem, the rules are often baffling to Japanese people as well. Part of the reason for this is the myth that the Japanese recycle everything possible. Most people think they are separating trash to facilitate this, but the truth is that except for certain specific items like PET bottles, paper and cardboard, glass, and metallic containers, most trash is separated according the the temperature that the garbage is to be incinerated at. This is why things like computer keyboards, plastic basins, and rubber rain boots, which would seem to fit into the "nonburnable" trash pile actually are tossed out with the "burnable" trash.

I won't miss the complex trash handling rules and the confusion I sometimes feel about where certain items fit in the garbage collection scheme.