Life Abroad

Trash Sorting

If you’re from the U.S. or other countries whose trash sorting is minimal to nonexistent, living in Japan and suddenly having to sort every single piece of trash can be overwhelming.

In this section we cover the different types of garbage and how they are sorted.
Scroll through to learn about trash/rubbish sorting in Japan.

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In Japan, garbage must be separated into a few different categories. The types of bags you are allowed to use and the days the different categories are picked up vary by municipality, so be sure to check the schedule for where you live.

Burnable Garbage

Burnable burnable
Food waste raw_garbage

Burnable garbage includes:

  • Raw garbage (food waste)
  • Paper waste
  • Twigs and branches, plant matter (Please cut long pieces down to about 30 cm in length)
  • Clothing (some municipalities collect clothing on designated days)

Non-burnable Garbage

Non-burnable non_burnable
Batteries/Lights yugai

Non-burnable Garbage includes:

  • Metal products from which plastic parts cannot be removed
  • Small household appliances less than 30 cm
  • Metals · dry batteries
  • Light bulbs / fluorescent lights
  • Sliray cans,
  • lighters
  • Aerosol cans (Please be sure to exhaust the contents, there is no need to drill holes.)

Cardboard, other papers

Cardboard cardboard
Magazines newspaper

Paper drink cartons paperpack

Cardboard, other papers includes:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines · Miscellaneous
  • Cardboard
  • Paper drink cartons (that have white insides)

※Please separate these items by type and tie them together with string so that they will not be blown around by the wind. The paper pack is a paper pack of 500 milliliters or more of milk, juice, etc. and the inside is white.

Glass bottles

Glass bottles bottle

Any glass bottles from drinks or food.

The following items should be categorized as Unburnable Garbage:  

    X broken bottles
    X glass cups
  ※Plastic caps should be removed, rinsed with water, and put into Plastic Garbage.


Cans cans
Aluminum aluminum
Steel steel

Please rinse the inside lightly with water before disposing aluminum and steel beverage and food cans.

The following items cannot be thrown out with the cans, and must be put with non-burnable garbage.

    XPaint cans
    XSpray cans
    XGas canisters
    XCans that cannot be cleaned

Plastic Bottles

Plastic Bottles petbottle
Pura pura
Pet pet

Any plastic bottle marked with the above PET symbol.

Please take off caps and labels and gently rinse the insides.

Plastic bottles marked with the above “pura” mark should be put in with other plastics.


Plastic plastic
Pura pura

The “pura” mark is on plastic containers and bags containing products such as food and clothing.

Please rinse and dry plastics before throwing them away.

Old clothing

Old clothing old_Clothe

※Please check your municipality’s collection method.

Old clothing (general clothing to wear) ※ excluding those with vinyl, rubber, and stains.

    towels / curtains / lace /sheets / blankets
    handkerchiefs / Kimono (bands can also be collected) / Shirts / sweaters

Any clothing you dispose of should be clean and in good condition. Buttons and zippers do not need to be removed.

※Things that cannot be collected.

  • Stained or dirty items
  • futons
  • cushions
  • pillows
  • carpets/rugs
  • mattresses
  • rain ponchos/coats
  • stuffed/plush toys
  • shoes

Large Trash

Furniture, Electrical appliances sodaigomi

Furniture, electrical appliances (excluding electronics, such as computers, refrigerators, and air conditioners per the electronics recycling law), bedding, stoves, bicycles, etc., as shown in the following figure, those with sides of 30 cm or more are considered Bulky Garbage. There is a fee to dispose of these items.

※Please check with your local city office.

Air conditioners, televisions, refrigerators / freezers, and washing machines are not collected as Bulky Garbage.

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