" Initiatives and Achievements
of Local Governments
in Japan " Article
HINO CITY: "WASTE REDUCED 50% IN TWO YEARS"
Hino City, located 40 minutes by train west from central Tokyo,
is a small city stretching
6 kilometers north-to-south
and 7.6 kilometers east-to-west, and has a population
170,000. As an agricultural
area, the city has
served as the "breadbasket
of Tokyo," and it is also the home of industry, including
Hino Motors Limited.
Hino City is also
a bedroom community
for the Tokyo metropolis.
The city's Basic Ordinance on the Environment, drafted in
1994 and approved
in 1995 after direct
petition from local
residents, was "an ordinance by the
citizens, for the
Based on the ordinance,
109 citizens responded
to a public invitation
and spent 10 months
to draft "a
discussions in five
working groups that
they organized. For
Hino City, this was
the first attempt
to involve citizens
in the drafting of
One driver of this active public participation was the decreasing
amount of greenery in the city. Due to the worsening economy,
developers were trying hard to sell land holdings to raise
cash, and even sloped areas were cleared for housing construction.
The loss of green space ignited a sense of crisis and pushed
citizens to participate in the city government's planning process.
But if you make a plan, you then have responsibility and accountability.
So even eight years after drafting, many citizens continue
to monitor the implementation of the plan and take action to
fulfill the citizens' role.
One example is the Hodokubo River, running through Hino City,
which has had its banks reinforced with concrete to prevent
erosion because the river's gradient is very steep. The citizens
demanded the creation of openings in the bank to allow water
to form pools. These spaces triggered a citizen interest in
caring for fish, insects and small animals there, and are now
wonderful play areas for kids to interact with nature.
Hino City started to work on a "garbage revolution" in
October 2000, resulting in a reduction in waste collection
of approximately 48 percent, and a tripling of resource-recovery.
Because they reduced the waste volume sent to landfill, they
have reduced the landfill usage fees and remaining capacity
of the landfill has been extended.
Three years ago, however, the situation was different. Hino
City was the worst among the neighboring 26 cities in terms
of its recycling ratio and the amount of incombustible waste
sent to landfills.
Hino City made its citizens aware of this negative status
and proposed solutions. The city identified its trash bin collection
method as the cause of the problem and decided to change its
approach to waste collection.
The trash bin collection method used huge metal garbage bins,
an approach that seemed efficient, because the contents of
bins were loaded onto collection trucks by cranes. And it was
convenient for citizens because they could throw their garbage
into any bin at any time. The "garbage revolution" pushed
people from this convenient trash bin collection method to
a door-to-door collection method where citizens had to buy
and use designated collection bags, making people more accountable
for their own garbage.
The designated collection bags are the way to force people
to pay for their waste. Hino City has raised 300 million yen
from the sales of designated collection bags, but this profit
has been offset by increased collection costs. The reduction
of waste volume, however, has made the "garbage revolution" possible
at a much lower cost than originally expected.
The total volume of waste has been cut by half. At present,
kitchen waste accounts for 50 percent of waste to be incinerated,
because this category of garbage has been reduced only slightly.
The Basic Plan for the Environment proposed that waste sent
to the incinerator could be reduced by 90 percent only if effective
ways were devised to use organic waste. Today, the city is
studying various ways to utilize organic waste, including composting
and biogas generation.
The city publicly reported progress in waste reduction every
month for six months after starting the new program, and since
then once a year. The reports also discuss the remaining challenges
and specific activities required to address them. They also
provide information about the waste volume generated at the
mayor's residence, in the belief that it is important to show
leadership at the top and achievements made.
Before the reforms, as much as 80 percent of citizens were
against removal of trash bins. After the reforms, however,
56 percent say the reforms were good and nearly 80 percent
are supportive. Also, 56 percent of citizens say that the reforms
triggered an interest in waste and other environmental problems.
At present, 90 percent of the citizens say they are concerned
about waste and other environmental issues. These results demonstrate
that participation in garbage separation and waste reduction
generate public concern and interest for the problem, and this
concern, leads to action.