Garbage disposal rules in Japan. Why are these rules difficult for foreigners?

Garbage disposal rules in Japan. Why are these rules difficult for foreigners?

In Japan, as one of the environmental conservation efforts, there are some garbage disposal rules in each city town or village.

We (if you want to know us, please see this page)knew that the garbage disposal rules are very difficult and confusing for our customers  living in Japan.

In this article, we will explain more detail for Japanese  garbage separation rules. We will also explain why these rules in Japan is so difficult.

There is an urgent need to reduce garbage in Japan

Japan is facing a big problem about waste management these days. According to one theory, dumping sites in Japan comes to limits in next 20 years.

Garbage from ordinary households in Japan is handled in the following three ways.

  1. Burned and buried ash
  2. Buried
  3. Recycled

Do you know which way is the most?

In these three methods, 90% of garbage from households was treated with 1 and 2.

Here, it is reason for waste management is needed in Japan. Because of narrow land, there is no place for buried garbage and ashes. And in order to reduce garbage, each individuals living in Japan have to obey garbage disposal rules.

What happens if you DO NOT follow the garbage disposal rules in Japan?


Are there  any punishments, If people DO NOT follow the garbage disposal rules in your living area?

The answer is NO.

There is no legal penalty even if you don’t follow these rules. However,  you have better realize some trouble with other residents or the owner of a rented house.

In Japan most of apartment or house has a shared garbage disposal area in or near your house. If resident ignored disposal rules, sanitation engineer leave it at the garbage disposal area. At the worst case, these garbage may be opened by a sanitation engineer or the owner of a rented house.

There is a lot of personally identifiable information in households garbage. They can find these garbage belongs to whom and they give a warn the resident.

If these things are happened many times, the owner may cancel the rental agreement because of disturbing other residents.

Detail for Japanese garbage disposal rules

So how should you separate and disposal your garbage when you live in Japan?

There are garbage disposal rules in cities, towns or villages. Please remember these rules in this below, if you want to live in Japan for a mid or long term.

Here is typical garbage disposal rules.  The garbage is separated to 4 categories.

‘Burnable’(燃えるゴミ), ‘non-burnable(不燃ごみ)’, ‘recyclables(資源ごみ)’ and ‘Large garbage(粗大ごみ)’ :

Burnable(燃えるゴミ) paper waste, clothing, diapers, cooking oil, etc.
non-burnable(不燃ごみ) Small metal (eg, frying pan, umbrella bone) , lighter ceramics glass , spray can, LED bulb, etc.
recyclables(資源ごみ) newspapers, magazines, cardboard cans, bottles, plastic bottles, etc.
Large garbage(粗大ごみ) home appliances, furniture, bicycles, etc.

Why do foreigners say it is difficult to separate garbage in Japan?

Many foreigners find it difficult to separate garbage when they move to Japan from another country.

We think there are three reasons why it is difficult to separate garbage in Japan.

  •  The days of the week thrown away vary depending on the type of garbage
  • Depending on the area where you live, the method of separating garbage differs
  • Rules on how to throw away trash vary depending on the property you live in

Each will be explained in detail.

Garbage separation rules differ depending on the area where you live

The first reason that Japanese garbage separation is difficult is that the garbage separation rules is slightly different depending on the area where you live.

The reason for the different rules for garbage collection in each region is due to the Japanese law that municipalities have rules for collecting garbage.

In addition, since the incinerators that incinerate the garbage have different performance depending on the municipality, the type of garbage that can be incinerated varies depending on the municipality.

How much different garbage disposal rules depend on cities, towns and villages are ?

For example,  at Shibuya-ku in Tokyo, plastic items are classified as burnable garbage.(Reference>>Separation, how to put out resources and garbage (English version)

However, at Matsudo City in Chiba Prefecture, unlike Shibuya Ward in Tokyo. In rules of Matsudo city, plastic items are classified under 2 types. (Reference>>Garbage separation rules in Matsudo City (foreign language)

  • Recyclable plastics
  • Other plastics

These two plastic garbages will have different collection dates, so if you throw away these garbages without checking, you have a risk with breaking rules unintentionally.

In this way, the rules is deferent depends on the area you move to, so we ask costomers to check the garbage separation rules on the homepage of a city, town, or villages.

The rules of how to throw it away depend on the property you live in


The second reason we find it difficult to throw away garbage in Japan is that the rules for  differ depending on whether you live in an apartment or a house.

[case of rent a apartment]

In the case of apartment, there are garbage disposal area on the first floor, basement or in front of the building. All Residents share the disposal area with others.

In some apartments, residents can dump garbage to the disposal area 24 hours. However, please note that the garbage separation must be done by each resident.

[case of rent a house]

In the case of a house, there is a collection area near the house.  Residents have to take garbage to shared collection area on collection day.

The days of the week that are thrown away are determined according to the type of garbage described above.

If residents want to use a shared garbage collection area, they must follow the local rules for garbage disposal.

We will support your relocation to Japan.

Smart Relocate Inc., helps you finding your apartment in near Tokyo and Chiba Bay areas, as well as support for moving from overseas to Japan and for your life in Japan.

We also can support you property inspections, house rental contracts and orientations after moving-in, as well as Japanese study.

Please feel free to contact us about relocating to Japan, moving, Visa via our ‘contact us‘ page or ‘Line’.
(Line is chat apps using in Japan. if you want to chat us, please push green button in the below. Japanese and English available).


If you have any sudden relocation in Japan, please contact us!
We will find you the best selection of apartments and houses in Japan.

047-303-3500 Business Hours 10:00 - 18:00