Sometimes things that seem commonplace to those of us who live in Fukuoka are considered remarkable in other parts of Japan. One example of this is the City’s trash collection system. Fukuoka’s nighttime trash collections are unusual in Japan; we are the only designated city that does this. Daytime collections can lead to traffic jams and crows scattering and eating trash, but these problems can be avoided by collecting trash at night.
Trash collection began in Fukuoka City in the Meiji Era. Back then, household trash was used by farmers as fertilizer and animal feed. Trash collection was a part-time job done by people such as farmers who had other jobs. For this reason, the trash collectors made their rounds in the early morning when it would not conflict with their regular work schedule. This is the precursor to the City’s current nighttime collections. With the spread of the automobile, the City began collecting trash at night, when there was not much traffic, in the 1950s.
The City also employs a semi-aerobic landfill design for non-burnable trash, and this is commonly referred to as the “Fukuoka Method”. The Fukuoka Method was jointly developed by Fukuoka City and Fukuoka University in the 1970s and is now used in landfills around Japan. This landfill method not only reduces hazardous substances such as carbon dioxide and methane gas, it is cheap to build and maintain. It is now widely used in developing countries and other areas around the world. In 2011, the Fukuoka Method was designated by the United Nations as an effective technique for mitigating global warming.
If you are interested in learning more about Fukuoka’s waste treatment and recycling methods, we recommend you visit the Rinkai 3R Station located on Hakozaki Wharf in Higashi Ward. Rinkai 3R Station offers courses on recycling and holds various events, and you can tour the incineration plant located next door. There is also a sports park on site, so feel free to bring your family.
Originally published by Fukuoka Now (June 2013)