Japanese turn away from incineration.
First-ever Zero Waste Declaration in Japan
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew
(Petaling Jaya, Monday):
During the last UMNO general
assembly, outgoing PM Dato Seri Mahathir Mohamad criticised Malaysians who
say no to incinerators. He argued that even Japanese who are much more well
to do than Malaysians could accept incineration as a method to treat solid
But the truth of the matter is
that more and more Japanese now realised that the incinerators all over
their country are ruining their lives quietly and steadily. They started to
put a stop to new incinerators and at the same time decided to dismantle the
old ones. Japanese have also started to embark on better and safer
alternatives for the treatment of solid waste.
Last weekend, Manny C. Calonzo
from the GAIA Secretariat, PHILIPPINES reported that Kamikatsu town in
Tokushima prefecture adopts policy aiming for Zero Waste by 2020 without
incineration or landfills.
On 19 September 2003, the town
council of Kamikatsu, located in Tokushima prefecture in the south-western
island of Shikoku in Japan, renounced Japan's continuing reliance on dirty
technologies to deal with its waste problems by adopting the country's
first-ever Zero-Waste Declaration, which aims to eliminate the need for
incinerators and landfills and move the town's communities towards safe and
sustainable discard management systems.
Called the "Kamikatsu Town Zero
Waste Declaration," the policy states that "to bequeath clean air, palatable
water, and fertile earth for the children of posterity, the town of
Kamikatsu shall abrogate waste incineration and landfills by the year 2020
to achieve zero waste."
This is a victory for waste
activists in what is considered to be the incinerator capital of the world.
Japan operates the most number of waste incinerators than any other country
in the world today. It also holds the dubious distinction of having the
highest levels of dioxins in the environment, likely consequence of the
government's mindless burning policies.
In adopting the policy,
Kamikatsu embraces the Zero Waste approach which is already accepted
practice in many cities and municipalities in Australia, New Zealand,
Canada, the United States, and even in developing countries.
Zero Waste seeks to eliminate
waste, reduce the quantities and toxicity of materials used, and promote the
reuse, recycling or composting of discarded materials.
The mayor of Kamikatsu stressed
the importance of the Declaration, saying that with it, "Kamikatsu hopes to
send the message that Japan needs to move away from its continuing addiction
to expensive and polluting technologies which is leaving behind a wasteful
and toxic legacy for future generations."
"Kamikatsu's Zero Waste
Declaration represents hope and renewal for every community fighting
incinerators and other dirty technologies in Japan and elsewhere. It is
important that any declaration aiming to achieve zero waste carry a clear
deadline like Kamikatsu's 2020 vision. The deadline ensures that laws and
ordinances which obligate manufacturers to be responsible for the recovery
of their products, coupled with improvements in existing recycling systems,
would be implemented to maximum effect," said Greenpeace Japan's toxic
campaigner Junichi Sato.
Greenpeace Japan and the
world-renowned expert on waste incineration and zero waste Dr. Paul Connett
of St. Lawrence University have together toured Japan since July asking
large and small municipalities to adopt zero waste policies. Dr. Connett was
in Kamikatsu last July where he gave a lecture on zero waste to town
Informed about the Kamikatsu
Declaration, Dr. Connett commented that "the decision is the first
prescription to Japan's"mad burn-disease. When I visited the town of
Kamikatsu this summer, I was very impressed by the responsible efforts made
by the town citizens and the mayor," he added.
Von Hernandez of Greenpeace
International said that the "Japanese government should follow Kamikatsu's
lead instead of building more burners and exporting them to its neighboring
countries in Asia. In Southeast Asia, there is already growing resistance to
these Japanese dirty technology transfer schemes which are often
masquerading as aid packages."
Malaysian government should now
changes its mind on incineration, now that even the Japanese are adopting
the zero waste management method. Say no to incinerators before it is too
* Ronnie Liu Tian
Khiew, DAP national publicity secretary and DAP Selangor chairman