stopped bringing unnecessary things home, for example by telling shop clerks not to wrap products," he said.

But not all municipalities have such stringent recycling policies and many cash-strapped local governments cannot afford to collect the bulky materials.

While collection for recycling glass bottles and cans by municipalities covered more than 97 percent of the nation's population in fiscal 2003, only 59.3 percent of the population had their plastic recycled; the figure for paper packaging was only 27 percent, according to the Environment Ministry.

To recycle plastic containers and wrapping, municipalities have to separate them from other materials, crush them and tie them into bundles, which makes it more costly than collecting other waste, said Masami Hamada, manager of Yokohama's resources and waste policy division.