We live in a society of mass production/consumption/disposal and enjoy a good life. In doing so, however, we consume limited resources on the earth and generate a lot of waste. We do things which cause many environmental problems such as dumping waste in unauthorized places. Emission of dioxin from the incineration of waste is another issue which leads to global warming. If we do nothing to reduce waste now, we cannot hope for sustainable developments. Reviewing our lifestyle to create a recyclable society is an impending issue for all of us.
The most important thing is to do away with the way of thinking that it doesn't matter if you are the only one who doesn't recycle. The next step is to learn the rules of waste disposal of your municipality. If you look around, you will be able to spot eco-friendly actions you can start immediately. As the first step, for instance, why not learn Japanese recycling symbols which tell you what is recyclable and what is not at a glance? Your cooperation in garbage separation would greatly help to make your municipality a good place to live.
*Recycling is the process of re-using a given product or byproduct (beyond its intended use), or producing a new product from a recyclable material. The advantage of recycling is not only the conservation of resources and energy but also the reduction in the cost of waste disposal, environmental protection, and the revitalization of economic activity.
|Recyclable steel cans
Old steel cans are used as iron materials for new cans and other steel products.
|Recyclable aluminum cans
Used aluminum cans are scrapped and then heated at high temperature to produce molten aluminum. After molten aluminum is hardened, it is enlarged for use as recycled metal to make aluminum sash and other aluminum materials.
|Recyclable plastic bottles
Plastic bottles for soft drinks, soy sauce, and alcoholic beverages bear the symbol as shown in the left column either on their labels or on the bottom. Used plastic bottles are shredded into small pieces and then granulated for production of new plastic bottles, shirts, umbrellas, and other plastic products.
|Recyclable paper containers
Used paper containers are placed into a machine containing warm water and chemicals and are agitated until they are mashed. Then another chemical is added to bleach them. After they are dried, they become material for making new paper products.
|This symbol denotes that the paper product bearing it is made 100% from used paper.|
|Recyclable milk cartons
In Japan, various groups such as schools and Chonaikai (neighborhood associations) collect used milk cartons for recycling. Many supermarkets and convenience stores place their own collection box on their premises. (Paper manufacturers buy used milk cartons via used article dealers and make new paper by the process mentioned above.)
After being shredded and dissolved, old plastics are used to make fences and benches you see in parks as well as gardening supplies.
If you see PE underneath the symbol, it means the plastic packaging material is polyethylene. If you see both PE and PA, it is made with complex materials, in which case two or more are mentioned with the major ones underscored.
Used plastic bottle caps can save the lives of the world's children. They are collected and sold to recyclers as high-quality plastic material. The money will then be used to purchase vaccines for the world's children. (400 caps sell at JPY10. Polio vaccination for one child costs JPY20. 800 caps can save the lives of two children.)
(Effective February 2013)