Waste management in the U.S. and Japan are very different in many ways. In the general disposal, storage, and attitude of waste, the countries vary in their practices greatly, affecting the overall well being of the country and its future in how trash affects the coming generations
One difference is the set up in public places regarding trash. Contrary to the U.S. in having trash cans everywhere, Japan don’t have as many trash cans. However, most of the time, U.S. trash cans are just for general trash and often overflow because of the amount of all types of trash cans stuffed into the cans. In Japan, despite the low quantity of trash cans, each trash can usually has four different types of bins there; one for combustible trash, one for incombustibles, one for plastic, and one for aluminum cans. So, in spite of the difference of number of trash cans between the U.S. and Japan, Japan definitely trumps the U.S. in efficient separation of trash to recycle and dispose of it properly.
Another difference is the storage/elimination of waste between the two countries. In waste management, there are two main ways of eliminating waste (besides recycling and reusing obviously), incineration and storing it in a landfill. In the U.S. storing in a landfill is the more common method as one, we have the land area to have landfills, and two, in the U.S. buying land is cheaper than in Japan because again we have more of it, so it is sometimes cheaper than incinerating waste. In a complete 180, in Japan, incineration is the most used method of destroying waste. Japan has less habitable land than the U.S. making large landfills not really an option, leaving incineration as the only option. For both methods, they have their pros and cons because while they both can generate usable energy to use, they can also pollute the environment around them if not properly checked and maintained.
Overall, Japan still reigns king over the U.S. in waste management and overall sustainability. Another big problem in the U.S. that people have trouble accepting is just that the U.S.’s attitude about waste management is just not as productive as Japan. We are lazy with our trash and not taking into account of where the trash goes, what happens to it, or how it affects the environment. Meanwhile, Japan is recycling on the daily and looking up more ways to dispose of trash more sustainably. If the U.S. can get in the right mindset when talking about how to make waste management better, then I believe we can also be on the same level as Japan in our sustainability and efficiency.