Separation and Disposal of Garbage and Recyclables in Tokyo

Poste date: Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Getting your garbage collected in Japan may be very different from your home country. Below are the common ways to sort garbage, prepare it for collection, and the collection schedules in Tokyo’s 23 wards.

It may seem complicated at first, but most apartment buildings have large communal bins and other accommodations to make it easier for you. We recommend you also check with your real estate agent, landlord, apartment staff, neighbors or local ward office for more details.

Sorting Garbage

Typically, there are five garbage types that will need to be separated. We recommend you pick up or print out the charts for your ward that lists all the different groups and how to package them. In most wards, the groups are:

  • Combustibles: food waste, old clothes, small quantities of yard waste, etc.
  • Noncombustibles: plastic wrappers, Styrofoam, metal containers, ceramic, etc.
  • Recyclables: plastic/glass bottles, metal cans, magazines, newspaper, corrugated cardboard, etc.
  • PET Bottles
  • Large items: TVs, air conditioners, other old appliances, furniture, etc.
    (Generally speaking, anything that is more than 30 x 30 x 30 cm is considered a “large item”)

Preparing Garbage for Collection

1. Bags

When preparing your garbage for collection, you should check with your local neighborhood/ward/district to determine which garbage bags must be used. You can probably also find these bags at your nearest convenience store or supermarket.

2. Packing rules

There are lots of specific rules about how to package the different categories of garbage and these can vary by ward/district, but below are some basic rules of thumb.

  • Combustibles
    Put all of these together in a bag for combustibles. You should drain any kind of excess liquid.
  • Noncombustibles
    Put all of these together in a garbage bag specifically for noncombustibles. Items like a Styrofoam food container that have food residue on it should be rinsed or cleaned off before being put in the garbage bag.
  • Recyclables
    ・Bottles/Cans - These should be rinsed out before putting them out.
    ・Paper - Paper should be sorted by type and bundled with a string before being put out.
    ・PET Bottles - You should check your ward’s garbage collection guide to confirm if your district collects PET bottles separately from other recyclables.
  • Large items
    Check below for more information.


Automatic Sensor Trash Can

You do not have to touch the lid to open the trash can. This is suitable for 30 - 45 Liters. It comes with 2 years warranty. Click the image for details.

To Separate Trash

A set of 3 trash cans which are convenient for separating trash. 20 Liters x 3. Click the image for details.

Getting Garbage Collected

Each ward will have a garbage collection schedule that you can find posted in ward offices, where you purchase garbage bags, and online on the ward websites.

For combustibles, noncombustibles, recyclables, and PET bottles, follow the packing guidelines above and then place your garbage at the nearest garbage collection point on the day that it is collected. While the ward guides do give some guidance on where collection points are, you should ask your landlord, apartment staff, or neighbors where it is to be sure you’re putting your garbage in the right place.

Also, you should confirm by referring to your ward’s garbage collection schedule but you should generally put your garbage out at the collection point by 8 am on the day it is to be collected.

Example of the collection schedule that is posted at garbage collection points.

Electric Appliances and Large-Sized Articles

Electrical appliances and large-sized articles must be disposed of properly. There are several ways to dispose them.

1) Ask the electric shop where you purchased the electric appliances

If you purchased the appliances at a retail shop, ask the shop clerk and they will take care of it. Recycling and delivery fee will be charged. The fees vary in articles, mostly around ¥3,000-¥9,000.

If you didn’t purchase the appliances at a retail shop, you will need to call the Waste Electric Appliances Collection Service Center at 03-5296-7200 (8:00 - 17:00) to request that it be picked up.

Here are some rough estimates for the “delivery fees + recycling fees” for appliances:

  • TVs : ¥5,000 - ¥9,000
  • Refrigerators : ¥8,000 - ¥9,000
  • Washing machines : ¥6,000 - ¥7,000
  • ACs : ¥7,000 - ¥8,000
  • Computers : ¥3,000 - ¥4,000
  • Other items : You will need to call the Large Item Collection Center at 03-5296-7200 (8:00 - 17:00) or else go to 粗大ごみ受付センター to apply. The specific ward garbage collection guides give more details on the process.

2) Call the city

You (or someone who speaks Japanese) can call the “Waste electric appliances collection service center” in your city to collect electric appliances and large-sized articles. Ask the city center for details. Some fees are necessary to dispose of them.

3) Sell to a recycle shop

If your appliances or large-sized articles are still usable (and not too old for electric appliances), some recycle shops will come to pick them up and sell them for you. You can search recycle shops in your area online (mostly in Japanese).

4) Sell them via Sayonara Sale

You can sell them directly on classifies like Craigslist or GaijinPot.

Craiglist (choose your region)

GaijinPot Sayonara Sale

Garbage Collection Guides - Tokyo’s 23 Wards

Central Tokyo
Bunkyo-ku How to Sort and Put Out Garbage
Chiyoda-ku Separating and Taking out Recyclables and Waste (Japanese)
Chuo-ku Everyday Life - Garbage and Recycling (Japanese)
Minato-ku How to separate and and dispose of recyclable resources and garbage (A4 poster)
Minato City Garbage Sorting App (iOS, Android)
Shibuya-ku How to Sort and Dispose of Resources and Garbage Properly
Shinjuku-ku How to separate and dispose of recyclable resources/garbage

How to separate and put out garbage

Eastern Tokyo
Edogawa-ku The Basic Rules for Sorting and Disposal of garbage
Katsushika-ku Proper Sorting and Disposal of Recyclables and Garbage
Koto-ku The Basic Rules for Sorting and Disposal of Garbage
Sumida-ku How to Sort Garbage for Collection in Sumida-ku
Western Tokyo
Nakano-ku How to Separate Recyclable Materials and Dispose of Them
Nerima-ku 資源・ごみの分け方と出し方 (Japanese)
Setagaya-ku How to Properly Sort and Dispose of Garbage and Recyclable Resources
Northern Tokyo
Adachi-ku How to Separate and Dispose of Recyclable Resources and Garbage
Arakawa-ku Rules about how to take out / separate waste vary from city to city
Kita-ku Garbage collection procedures for foreign residents.
Toshima-ku How to Sort and Dispose of Garbage and Recyclable Resources
Southern Tokyo
Ota-ku How to dispose and separate your waste and recyclables waste
Shinagawa-ku How to Separate and Dispose of Waste and Recyclables Items

Another useful link is the Tokyo 23 Clean Association, which provides links to the garbage disposal pages for each of Tokyo’s 23 wards. Note that the various links are to the Japanese sites for each ward.

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