Japan is known around the world as a leading country in environmental protection. From a young age, Japanese children have been educated very carefully about the sense of general hygiene, starting from simple everyday actions such as taking out the trash.

Many foreigners who first come to Japan will find the Japanese rules of garbage disposal difficult to remember and they cannot follow them correctly. However, as long as you take a moment to learn about the regulations in the classification as well as how to dispose of garbage, everything will surely become extremely simple.

Let’s Thien Nam Building learn how to sort garbage in one of the cleanest countries in the world – Japan!


To foreigners, the division of waste in Japan seems quite complicated. The main waste groups include combustible waste, non-combustible waste, resource waste, and large waste. Depending on the locality, the way of classifying garbage will have certain changes, but you can refer to the ways of division below to understand the most general way that the Japanese sort garbage every day.

Burnable garbage

In simple terms, combustible garbage is all types of waste that can be burned, including some types of garbage such as garbage from the kitchen (leftovers, eggshells, fruit peels, …), plastic packaging. paper, styrofoam, utensils made of leather, wood, fabric, etc. Plastic packaging and bottles with the symbol Plastic or プラ but dirty can also be classified in this group of garbage.

Combustible garbage is the main type of garbage generated in human daily life and is easy to decompose and smell, so it is usually collected more often than other types of garbage about 2 times/week.

It should also be noted that, normally, to burn garbage requires a lot of energy, so the more water the waste contains, the more energy it needs to consume for incineration and treatment of garbage. Therefore, in Japan, before throwing garbage, people often try to remove all excess water, leaving only the dry waste before throwing it away.


Recyclable waste is simply understood as waste that can be recycled to be used for other purposes. This group of waste is less in quantity than combustible waste, so it is usually collected once a week or 2 weeks.

Product packaging, containers

In some localities, products with the symbol Plastic or プラ (plastic), such as bottles of shampoo, shower gel, bottles of cooking oil, etc., are classified as recyclables. In addition, plastic product packaging or plastic food trays, if still clean (or washed) are also considered as packaging and containers and are classified in this group of garbage.

・Plastic bottles, glass jars, cans

Plastic bottles, glass bottles, cans are also products in the group of recyclable waste. This group usually includes bottles, cans of drinking water, cosmetic bottles, wine bottles, bottles of cooking seasonings such as shoyu, vinegar, etc. product information and remove the cap before being thrown away, because if these parts are not removed, they will become foreign bodies during recycling. Plastic covers and lids can be thrown in with plastic waste.

At the garbage disposal area, you will find mesh bags and plastic bins with can (缶) and bottles (瓶) printed on them. Your job is just to bring out the bottles and put them in the right place. Normally, PET bottles will be placed in mesh bags, while cans and glass bottles are placed in corresponding plastic containers.

・Books, newspapers, magazines…

Books, newspapers, magazines, cardboard boxes, milk cartons, etc. are made of paper, so they can be classified as combustible waste, however, in some localities in Japan, they are classified as a small branch in the resource garbage group. Particularly for this group of waste, people will tie it into a neat stack of paper at the garbage collection point instead of arbitrarily stuffing it into garbage bags like other types of waste.

Non-combustible garbage

Perhaps many people when hearing about non-combustible garbage will feel quite confused, not knowing how to define the word “non-burnable” because most of our household waste can be burned. But you need to remember a key point that the first purpose of garbage classification is to protect the environment, so if you burn all kinds of toxic waste, you will not only not be able to protect the environment, but also cause harm to the environment. make the situation worse. Non-combustible waste is regulated as solid plastic waste (CDs, lunch boxes, clothes hangers, etc.), metal household utensils (pans, pots, pans, knives, forks, etc.) …), bottles, cans (not used for food), glassware, small household appliances (phones, irons, egg beaters, speakers,…), all kinds of garbage hazardous waste to the environment (thermometer, battery, insect spray, light bulb, …).

Non-burnable waste has a collection schedule every 1-2 weeks, depending on local regulations.

Large garbage

According to the above classification, there will be many types of household waste that make you think that it is combustible waste, non-combustible waste, but when thrown at the garbage dump, they are not taken away. . Cotton blankets are made from fabric, so they can be burned or children’s toy cars are completely made of plastic, so they can be thrown into plastic waste, but why when you throw them away? Garbage collectors refuse to take those things away? The reason is because they can be large pieces of waste and need special handling (we’ll cover that in the next section). Large waste includes blankets, household items such as fans, vacuum cleaners, televisions, refrigerators, printers, tables and chairs, etc. Or even bicycles, large children’s toys. If ordinary waste is collected on the specified date, large waste is treated separately.

If you want to dispose of large garbage, you need to do one of the following:

  • Call your local large-scale waste center to ask about your collection date and how much you will have to pay to dispose of your waste.
  • Go to a convenience store and buy a Large Waste Charge Voucher corresponding to the fee you need to dispose of your garbage.
  • Fill in your name and date of collection on the Large Waste Charge Sheet and stick it on the item you want to dispose of.
  • Take the waste to be treated to the designated collection point over the phone. Garbage will be taken away when the appointment is due.
  • To avoid causing inconvenience to people around as well as obstructing traffic, please bring the items to be handled to the collection point close to the allotted time.

Please note that the waste that you throw away is not recovered, it may be because the amount of garbage you purchased on the ticket is not enough, so you should confirm with the staff in charge of the disposal center dispose of large garbage before you throw it away!

These things contribute to a green – clean – beautiful Japan that the whole world must admire. Garbage disposal seems very complicated, but it is not too difficult if you spend a little time learning about the basic rules mentioned above. Hopefully, through this article, you will have more basic knowledge about garbage sorting so that you won’t have difficulty in daily life in Japan and can better understand the meaning of garbage sorting to make it green. than your environment!