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Trash Less is the New Black

Japan was able to remove public trashcans from the streets, can the rest of the world do the same? Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Last updated on October 23, 2021

Trash less is the new black. Japan is a small country with a vast population, rated as one of the cleanest countries worldwide; what is their secret? No bins. Many don’t know that it all began in 1995; Japan, a country with a low crime rate and terrorist incidents, faced a worrisome domestic terrorist attack by the AMU Shrinkyo cult group. The cult targeted countless train stations in Tokyo, placing a highly toxic gas, Sarin, in plastic bags to be pierced and later planted into bins throughout the common area. Sarin causes paralysis following suffocation, killing 13 and injuring 6,300 people overall.

Following this catastrophic event, the government ensured by eliminating every bin throughout the country to prevent future attacks. Today, wastebaskets exist solely in distinct locations such as public parks, next to vending machines, public restrooms, and some stations. Furthermore, some grocery stores possess bins formerly located outside of the store; however, due to poorly carried out recycling by customers, bins were shortly moved within the store for the staff to be liable for correct recycling. A country without public trashcans is thought to be a never-ending mountain of waste.

However, a significant positive outcome was observed as the country faces lower trash collection expenses and debris, which is believed to emanate from the culture. Unlike other countries, the inhabitants don’t possess the habit of walking around eating or drinking but stop a few minutes by the vending machine or assigned areas, which is very commonsensible and straightforward. As well restaurants don’t offer the option of taking away, diminishing waste pollution. However, this method wouldn’t be easy to perform in other countries.

Recognizing the tremendous achievement of the binless approach, companies worldwide began realizing this methodology. Companies have now implemented this methodology, avoiding bins below desks but only in designated waste areas. The method helps reduce waste as people subconsciously buy fewer packaged substances as it is “arduous” and straining to locate designated areas, improving the cleanliness of the workspace by 30%. It’s a fast and forthright method as trashes simply need to be removed and placed several per floor.

People will be eager to maintain the place immaculate as individuals are not likely to defile in areas where they have to spend countless hours a day, a place that has become a familiar place. The process of throwing away trash in destinated areas further reduces the time spent gathering all waste. In this manner, time can be focused on other priorities, such as sanitation, particularly today during the pandemic. Let’s not ignore the high cost of purchasing liners for the desk’s bins, estimated to accumulate to 4% of the yearly revenue.

Can this system be extended in distinct professions such as hotels and airplanes? We usually see businesses implementing sustainable solutions that don’t require a change of behavior from the customers. For example, solar panels, replacement of plastics bottles with glass, and so on, but is it harmful to the business to invite customers to adapt their experiences to help be sustainable? In the hospitality industry, an idea would imply removing bins in hotel rooms, require clients to use ecological trash areas, and refill water bottles at stationary water fountains to diminish plastic usage. However, how many customers would be open to the notion?

For the airline industry, planes do not recycle trash; a black bag is carried around collecting customer trash on flights. A solution to be sustainable would be to accommodate customers with disposable petit trash bags, which are presently employed in Japan to store trash to later be emptied at home. With the bags, trash can be stored until reaching appointed airports and dispose of waste in designated recycling areas.

Implementing a binless system shows excellent short-term and long-term advantages with expenses, reducing lost time and sustainability. There are feasible solutions that demand commitment from consumers for businesses that operate specifically out of offices like seen above airlines and hotels. Businesses addressing a green lifestyle drive employees and the company itself to implement a greener approach but haven’t the time come to modify the customer buying experience?

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