Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Japanese apartment complex a model for effective waste management

Published:Thursday | February 23, 2017 | 2:00 AMAmitabh Sharma
Mineo Hata, Haseko Community, Inc, supervisor at the Foreseum condominium complex in Kawasaki City, Japan.
Workers at the Ukishima Waste Treatment Center hand sort plastic bag waste for recycling.
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Having spent his life working for a real-estate company, Mineo Yahata is adding value as the superintendent of the three-apartment complex he manages in the city of Kawasaki, Japan.

But he is not the security in charge, as his title might suggest. Rather, this calm, petite-framed gentleman is policing waste collection and disposal.

Yahata and his team of 21 personnel - all employees of Haseko Community Inc., a Tokyo-based maintenance company - are running a unique and proven effective garbage collection programme for the last six years.

"There are particular days assigned for the type of garbage that is to be disposed of, which is kept outside the apartment door by the owners," informed Yahata. "This is collected and brought to the central garbage collection centre in the apartment complex."

While Mondays are designated for plastic waste, Wednesdays and Saturdays are for kitchen waste, while Fridays are for the collection of recyclable plastic and cans.

The garbage, which is to be put in translucent plastic bags, is brought to a collection centre where it is stored in green plastic bins, and picked up by designated garbage truck.

This service is funded with monthly maintenance fees paid by the residents of the complex.

"The apartments in this complex move fast," said Yahata, adding that the over 700 apartments in the three-building complex also attract a premium.

Kawasaki, home to more than 1.4 million people, is one of smallest and cleanest cities of Japan. The effort to make the city clean, sustainable, environmentally friendly, is a result of the local government implementation of core principle of 'trash to cash'.

The city currently has three waste-treatment facilities, which convert certain plastic and paper to raw materials that are sold to local manufacturing facilities.

Yahata and his team, meanwhile, are working hard to keep their neck of the woods pristine.

"The apartment owners are very happy with this facility," he said. "We never had anyone defaulting on the (maintenance) payment, but if someone does, we will put their photo on the community notice board."

amitabh.sharma@hotmail.com