Separation and Disposal of Garbage and Recyclables in Tokyo
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.
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.
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
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.
Put all of these together in a bag for combustibles. You should drain any kind of excess liquid.
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.
・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.
Check below for more information.
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) 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).
Craiglist (choose your region)
GaijinPot Sayonara Sale
Here are links to the garbage collection guides for Tokyo's 23 wards, grouped by region:
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.