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What a Waste of Land: America vs Japan's Cultures Dealing With Waste Management

Waste management is not a topic many people want to discuss in America, but we may not have much of a choice as landfills eat away at our geography. This is a problem shared with many other countries, but Japan is not one of them. In fact, Japan has taken the opposite route and uses incineration plants to get rid of their waste. Though neither method is without its weaknesses, it is curious how two highly developed countries developed such different ways to manage their waste. So why does Japan favor the incinerator and America the landfill?

 

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How Culture Influences Waste Management in Japan and America

Waste management in Japan is very different than in the United States. Japan primarily incinerates all of their waste while the United States disposes of their waste in landfills. Japan, on the other hand, does not recycle a lot of their waste compared to the United States. However, Japan does use their old landfills to generate energy. We had the chance to tour a solar farm that had been built on top of an old landfill.

The main reason that Japan incinerates their trash and the...

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Factors Influencing Waste Management Around the World

While there are certainly some similarities between the two highly developed nations, there are also major infrastructure differences between Japan and the United States. As we have talked about in class and observed throughout the trip, these differences are often a product of deeper cultural nuances. Because of these cultural differences, Japan and the United States vary in their practices and overall attitudes toward municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal.

Solar panels...

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Trash Disposal in Japan and the United States

The difference in trash or MSW (municipal solid waste) disposal between Japan and the United States is one difference that I have been really surprised by. Japan takes trash disposal and recycling way more seriously than the United States despite there not being trash cans everywhere you go. In the United States, you’ll see multiple trash cans on almost every street corner, and people will still litter and not seem to care about disposal.

Another difference I was surprised by was the amount of MSW that people produce every day. People in Japan produce an average of two pounds...

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Cultural and Environmental Differences Surrounding MSW in Japan and the US

Japan and the US have cultural and environmental differences that affect how we dispose of waste. Factors such as size, rule following, and stigmas influence the MSW systems.

The main difference that has influenced Japan’s MSW system is how much less usable land than the US does. Without extra space, they can’t use landfills as easily. In lecture, we learned about how you can’t put a building on top of a landfill because of how the landfill sinks over time. People also don’t want to live near a landfill, so Japan can’t waste the space on top of or...

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A Rubbish System: Why Incineration Works in Japan

Different societies have different means of dealing with waste disposal. In America, waste is primarily sent to landfills after being processed. In Japan, however, incinerators are used much more commonly to dispose of waste material. Japan has almost 2,000 incineration plants, compared with fewer than 100 in America. There are several reasons as to why Japan and America have radically different waste disposal systems, primarily related to the geographic and cultural differences between the nations.

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To Burn or Bury? Waste Disposal in Japan and America

One very obvious societal difference between Japan and the United States is each country’s unique waste management system. It is clear that both nations differ not only in garbage disposal practices, but also in their attitudes towards waste generation itself. After spending the past month in various cities across Japan, I’ve experienced the Japanese methods firsthand and recently got the opportunity to learn more thoroughly about their origins in lecture.

 

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