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Americans create garbage problem for collection teams

Date Posted: 2004-07-01

Okinawa landfills are busy places, and American families are complicating the tasks for workers.

Officials say the American habit of not separating trash and garbage before disposing it is causing difficulties for the landfills. The Prefectural Environmental Maintenance Section says the garbage being disposed of by American military families at Kurashiki Environmental Landfill is not being sorted before being tossed.

Okinawa residents, and Americans residing off-base, are required to separate all garbage by type: burned trash such as paper, family garbage, non-burnable items such as plastic and glass, recycleable items such as newspapers, magazines and milk cartons, cans and bottles, and furniture / large items.

Refuse disposal trucks pick up trash in the local communities on different days, with special pickup days scheduled for large, bulky items.

Officials are asking the military to ask its members to divide their garbage at least into several separate sets of bags. They want on-base personnel to support the effort by sorting out cans, bottles and glass into different bags. They ask that books, newspapers and milk pacekages go in other bags. Otherwise, they say, it is difficult to accomplish recycling operations.

They say, for example, that metals can be100% recycled if it’s not tainted with garbage. Putting trash with food garbage makes it impossible for workers to do their jobs.

Trash bags are sold at local supermarkets for use by Okinawans and American off-base residents. The bags are different, each with its own specified use.

Kurashiki Evironmental Landfill says it will run out of space soon if it cannot accomplish significant recycling. It is asking the military to require its personnel to use sorting on its trash.

The military says it agrees. A spokesman says “Yes, we are all for it, and when newcomers come to Okinawa, we are educating them. From now on, we’ll give advice to everyone that they divide the trash and try to use the city’s bags too.”

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