City official says awareness and ownership key to success

Yokohama waste management model thrives on community support and awareness

By ILIESA TORA

Mr Tomohiro Kamewaka, the Manager for Policy Coordination Division for the City of Yokohama Resources and Waste Recycling Bureau explaining a point during his presentation. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

TOKYO, Japan – October 27, 2019: 3pm (Enviro News): Yokohama’s successful waste management program has been credited to an extensive awareness campaign and the involvement of members of the community.

This was revealed by Mr Tomohiro Kamewaka, the Manager for Policy Coordination Division for the City of Yokohama Resources and Waste Recycling Bureau, to journalists at the bureau office on Wednesday, October 23.

Journalists and trainers of the APIC Japan Journalism  Fellowship visited the Yokohama City’s Tsurumi Recycling Center.

The Yokohama model involves the separation of waste and recyclables into 15 different items, which are collected and either taken for recycling or to the incinerator for burning before the remains are disposed of in a landfill.

Prior to 2001, household waste was separated into seven different categories.

City officials worked with communities to educate them about the new system and has set policies on how the system would work.

“In Yokohama, there are designated locations where residents place household waste and recyclables. Waste collectors drive vehicles to these designated point to collect the waste,” he said.

“Waste must be separated by type in transparent or translucent bags and put out by 8am on collection days. There are different collection days for different waste items.”

There are 74,000 collection points in the City of Yokohama and each serves 10 to 30 households.

Mr Kamewaka said public awareness was “very important.”

“We carry out guidance and awareness raising activities on how to properly separate and dispose of garbage and recyclables,” he said.

This involved holding sessions in the different communities, awareness raising campaigns at train stations and supermarkets, visiting elementary schools and kindergartens, raising awareness at festivals and events, and using the media.

Mr Minoru Nakagawa of the Yokohama City Resources and Waste Recycling Bureau explains the process being followed for recycables at the recyling plant on October 23. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

The council also has a Waste Collection Point policy, where warning stickers are placed on waste bags that are not collected because they had not been sorted.

Mr Kamewaka said they have seen that a lot more people are following the system than those who do not.

The Yokohama waste management budget (2017) was 43.5 billion Yen.

Meanwhile, he revealed that a team from Yokohama City will be visiting Fiji in November to see waste management practises being implemented in the country.

That Fiji visit could also open the doorway to other Pacific countries interested to use the Yokohama model.

Tonga’s Waste Management Authority is keen on introducing a sorting system in Nuku’alofa to help in the management of the landfill at Tapuhia.

Chief Executive Officer Malakai Sika had told the media earlier this year that the introduction of a sorting system is the next step they are interested to take.

  • Iliesa Tora is a fellow of the APIC Japan Media Fellowship in Tokyo

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