4 Facts About The Lack of Public Trash Cans in Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

4 Facts About The Lack of Public Trash Cans in Japan

By Yae Sep 9, 2018

When you’re walking around the city streets, local parks or sightseeing in Japan, many of you may have recognized there are few public trash cans and have found it difficult to throw away your trash in general.

You may feel this situation strange when comparing it with your hometown where you can see public trash cans everywhere. And you may wonder why Japan doesn’t do the same thing.
Let’s see the reasons why there are few public trash cans in Japan.


1. What Kind of Trash Do You Need to Dispose in Public?


Do you often eat foods or drink outside on the city streets? If you’re out and need something to tide you over to dinner, many of you need trash cans somewhere outside to throw the following major things:

・Coffee paper cups
・Candy wrappers
・Gum wrappers
・Drink containers such as pet bottles
・Sandwich wrappers
・Tissues you’ve used for blowing nose
・Snack packets

If you carry a small bag that it does not have enough space for you to put the trash in, you may start searching for public trash cans somewhere around you.
If you have an important schedule in few minutes and what if you have to carry around the trash since there are no public trash cans to throw the trash away?
This could be quite annoying for you who are used to dispose of your trash in public but not able to do so in Japan.


2. Tragic Accidents Meant the Removal of Trash Cans in Japan


There is a specific reason that made few public trash cans in Japan. This tragic accident triggered the removal of public trash cans for avoiding any people to meet any accidents in Japan.


Tokyo Subway Sarin Gas Attack in 1995

This was one of the tragic accidents in Japan happened on March 20th, 1995 in Tokyo. The members of cult Aum Shinrikyo released deadly sarin gas inside the trains during the early morning in rush hour. According to this terrorist attack, about 6,300 people were killed or injured. The sarin gas was wrapped by plastic bags and covered by newspapers. According to this indiscriminate terrorist attack, 3 major subways were used as the target: the Chiyoda Line, Marunouchi Line and Hibiya Line.

Since then, Japanese people became cautious and police ensured people do not leave any suspicious substances in open spaces in public such as trash cans. People don’t feel doubtful if someone puts something in the public trash cans but do if he or she leaves something in middle of nowhere, right?
In this way, the public trash cans gradually disappeared in Japan.


3.Where Can People Dispose Trash in Public?


There are some places you can dispose of your trash in public in Japan such as:


・At the airport
・Outside the convenient stores
・Outside the supermarket (some local supermarkets such as AEON)
・Close to a food stand


Many of the spots above have a few public trash cans. However, you should be careful when you dispose of trash at convenient stores. There are some trash cans inside the stores or outside the stores but it depends on each location, and in general, people are allowed to throw trash away only when these are the products they bought from that stores. There are notes near on the trash cans saying “Not acceptable to dispose any household garbage” so it’s bad manners to bring trash from somewhere else and just throw them away into the trash cans at the convenient stores.


4. What Should I Do with My Trash in Public?


It’s quite easy to find convenient stores in Tokyo but once you step into the local areas, it’s very rare to come across the stores with the same trash service as convenient stores.

What should you do with your own trash then?
All you need to do is to change your way of thinking, like carrying your own water bottle with you and trying not to buy plastic bottles from the shops. If you find your favorite water bottle, it will be great to carry it around and also you can save money to buy soft drinks all the time.

It’s also an eco idea to put a small plastic bag your bag and bring it with you. If you need to dispose gum wrappers or any small trash, you just put them into the small plastic bag and keep it inside your bag.
No one wants to carry trash all the time so gradually people try not to make any trash in public.

In Japan, there are some districts that need to use designated trash bags to throw away your trash and you must buy that designated trash bags. Due to this chargeable system, Japanese people are getting more and more careful of their trash production.
Less trash means there’s no need to buy designated trash bags.
If the tax increases from 8% to 10% in 2019, Japanese people may become more sensitive in taking out the trash.

Sometimes inconvenient situation makes earth happy. Don’t you think so?