The residents of a remote village on the Japanese island of Shikoku have spent almost two decades reusing, recycling and reducing, united behind a mission to end their dependence on incinerators and landfill as the world struggles to tackle the climate emergency and the plastic waste crisis. Although Kamikatsu, an hour’s drive from the nearest city, Tokushima, and 370 miles from Tokyo, has not managed to banish waste altogether, its heroic efforts have inspired other communities in Japan and further afield to take up the zero-waste challenge. Household waste must be separated into no fewer than 45 categories, before being taken to a collection centre where volunteers ensure items go into the correct bin, occasionally issuing polite reminders to anyone who forgets to take the lid and label off a plastic bottle or remove nails from a plank of wood. Items still in good condition end up at the Kuru Kuru recycling store, where residents can drop off or take home merchandise – mostly clothes, crockery and ornaments – free of charge. Not even the coronavirus pandemic has hampered the community’s effort to bring waste generation down to nought (there are no orders to self-isolate in that part of […]

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