Japan’s Environmental Awareness Represented In “Mottainai”

Would you rather see a cluttered backyard than pay for junk hauling cost to maintain a clean and pleasant environment? The cost of junk hauling can be justified by the amount of efforts to demolish and dismantle large appliances that have reached the end of their life. Small items have to be gathered before they are placed in bags or boxes. Junk will be loaded into trucks to save you from aching muscles.

Do you know that there is a Japanese word for being less wasteful? “Mottainai” is the sense of regret when something valuable is wasted. The English translation is “do not waste anything worthy.” Mottainai represents Japan’s environmental awareness. It was also the term used by Kenyan Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai to encourage Africans to minimize their plastic waste.

Japan’s sophisticated waste management system teaches the world that everything from polystyrene to packaging for pills can be separated and recycled. The Basic Recycling Act that was introduced in 2000 promotes 3R’s and proper waste management with October designated as the 3R Promotion Month.

Supermarkets use PET bottle shredders to cut back on the emissions created by collections. Customers are given tokens in exchange for plastic bottles. PET resin will be used to make new bottles, clothes and carpets. Apps that feature dictionaries help people in sorting waste. It sends out alarms to remind people on the items they can put out on collection day.

Japan is motivated to tackle its plastic waste because it is second to the United States as the biggest generator of plastic waste per capita. According to the United Nation Environment Programme, the effective waste management system of Japan and the people’s high degree of social consciousness has significantly limited dumping of single-use plastics in the environment.

Japan produces 9.4 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. According to the Japanese government, 25% is recycled, 57% is incinerated for energy recovery and 18% goes to the landfill or burned. Japan has limited landmass which means that their garbage which cannot be recycled has to be incinerated to generate electricity. The country is working towards a technology that will reduce emissions during incineration to protect people and the environment.