(original photo by Steve Nagata; CC BY 2.0)


Garbage is separated by type and collected at specific locations on specified days. There are broadly 4 categories:

  • burnable garbage (燃えるごみ / 可燃ごみ, moeru-gomi / kanen-gomi),
  • unburnable garbage (燃えないゴミ / 不燃ごみ, moenai-gomi / hunen-gomi),
  • recyclable garbage (資源ごみ, shigen-gomi),
  • and other garbage including bulky refuse (粗大ごみ, sodai-gomi).

Depending on where you live, you may have to classify your garbage into smaller sub-groups. Even within Tokyo, rules for separation are not consistent – some areas collect plastic packaging and containers as recyclables, while others treat them as burnable garbage. As a rule, recyclables should be disposed of empty and clean, with plastic labels and caps removed from pet bottles.

For descriptions on recycle marks on products, see the list of Garbage Marks below.

For other large and irregular garbage like furniture, electrical or household appliances, you will need to arrange for the disposal and pay a fee. Sometimes the store where you bought your electrical goods can collect them.

Inquire at your local municipal office for garbage sorting rules, collection schedules, and large size garbage disposal information.

Waste Collection Services

Here are some common waste collection services.

03-5296-7000 (Japanese only)
03-5282-7685 (Japanese only)
03-5296-7200 (Japanese only)

Garbage Marks

The below marks are displayed on everyday items. Please refer to your local municipality for garbage separation and rules.

Garbage Mark (Paper) Displayed on packages etc. made from paper, and is usually classified as burnable garbage.
Garbage Mark (Plastic) Displayed on plastic products. Garbage classification largely differs among municipalities.
Garbage Mark (Alminum) Seen on beverage cans, and other aluminum products. Usually collected as recyclable garbage.
Garbage Mark (Steel) Seen on beverage cans, and other steel products. Usually collected as recyclable garbage.
Garbage Mark (PET) Commonly seen on plastic bottles of soft drinks, oil, condiments, etc. Recyclable garbage.
Garbage Mark (Cardboard) Displayed on cardboard boxes (“Danboru” in Japanese). Recyclable garbage.
GarbageMark (Carton) Displayed mainly on milk cartons and juice cartons. Wash, cut open, dry, and recycle.
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