Nudged Recycling

The Japanese Ministry of the Environment launched a new program to introduce “nudges” into environmental policy. It would be indeed exciting if nudges would indeed lead to greater resource management through recycling when the latest household waste recycling percentage was around 20 percent and declining in the latest statistics.

However, the low recycling rate is understandable, because the garbage classification is so confusing and its disposal is bound by complex rules. It takes a booklet of over 30 pages to explain how residents are supposed to sort and handle their garbage.

Minato ward, Tokyo

Surprisingly, a local community in Hokkaido recorded an recycling rate of almost 85 percent. It is not surprising, as the town is small with an population of only 4,000 and the average age is well over 50 years old. Presumably they have an active peer pressure mechanism and plenty of time to devote to waste recycling. But the nation wide rate will hardly improve, unless the Ministry is nudged to streamline the sorting and recycling rules.