Shizuka Gu, 53, said that early on, a community leader sent her a letter reprimanding her for not writing her identification number on the bag with a "thick felt-tip pen." She was chided for using a pen that was "too thin."The Japanese have gone recycling mad...In some towns there are no less than 44 categories for garbage. And the NYT article describes the busybodies who enforce this madness.
"It was a big shock to be told that I had done something wrong," Ms. Gu said. "So I couldn't bring myself to take out the trash here and asked my husband to take it to his office. We did that for one month."
No question that the programs have reduced the amount of garbarge which is burned; but at what cost? The underlying assuption of garbage recycling programs is that it is a minor imposition on a person's time to sort garbage. Which, when it comes to dividing glass from newspaper, it is. But once you get to, say, ten categories, time does become an issue.
In Japan, where land is scarce, landfills are not used. Garbage is burned. And burning has cash and enviornmental costs. (As do landfills but on a much lower scale.) So garbage sorting so long as it keeps the volume of incinerated garbage in check, has some economic value. However, at the point where rules such as:
Lipstick goes into burnables; lipstick tubes, "after the contents have been used up," into "small metals" or plastics. Take out your tape measure before tossing a kettle: under 12 inches, it goes into small metals, but over that it goes into bulky refuse.there has to be some value placed on the time of the poor folks forced to sort. So long as that value is not nothing there is a level of sorting categorization which is entirely self defeating.
Socks? If only one, it is burnable; a pair goes into used cloth, though only if the socks "are not torn, and the left and right sock match." Throw neckties into used cloth, but only after they have been "washed and dried."