The Art of Japanese Recycling at Yamaguchi Recycling Plaza

April 7, 2012

Any exchange student or foreigner in Japan will tell you, one of the first things the Japanese will attempt to teach you is their very specific, seven category recycling system. Here’s a hint: barely anything is truly ‘garbage’.

In order to teach us hopeless foreign exchange students about the art of recycling, we went on a class trip up to the recycling plaza in the mountains (then again, everything is up a mountain in Yamaguchi).

At our school, not only did we receive multiple pamphlets, wall posters, and instructional tutelage (see above, where I have placed my hand under my chin in a posture of learning with keen interest), but we actually went for a class tour of the Yamaguchi City Recycling Plaza. It was really quite cool.  This machine below crushes plastic bottles into easily stacked squares.

Also, I was amazed that it didn’t smell awful. In Canada, I associate recycling depots with with that stale beer and rotten fruit smell. Here, the plaza just smelled of mild compost. I could not believe it! A testament to Japanese cleanliness and willpower, I think.

Everyone who worked here was so friendly and nice; they seemed genuinely happy to be working there. They treated their uniforms with respect as well as their positions. I think of the recycling depot I used to go to, and I think of some employees with pretty rough demeanors, not necessarily the proudest employees.

The recycling plant also had a section purely dedicated to recycling old bike parts into new, cheap student bicycles, as well as a whole shop that sold refurbished goods! Pretty nifty!