National | Regional voices: Chubu

Nagoya community effort to recycle food waste wins U.N.-related award

Chunichi Shimbun

A decade-old community effort in Nagoya to recycle food waste from supermarkets and school lunches to make compost for vegetable farming has been awarded the Biodiversity Action Award by the Japan Committee for United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (UNDB).

One morning earlier this month, a special garbage truck arrived at the parking lot of the Kakuozan Frante supermarket in Chikusa Ward. There, scraps of Chinese cabbage, Japanese white radish and other vegetables generated by the presale cutting process were thrown in.

“They are so quick and efficient,” one participant on the waste-recycling tour said. The tours, held a few times a year, are increasing public support for the initiative.

The waste scraps are then delivered to Bio Plaza Nagoya, a plant in Minato Ward that turns them into compost to help reduce the use of fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals.

Veggies grown by farmers who use the compost are sold at supermarkets including Kakuozan Frante. A local hotel also participates in the recycling project by offering a special dish made with vegetables grown with the compost.

The Okaeri Yasai (Welcome Back Vegetables) recycling project was launched in 2008 based on a proposal by Tomoko Okayama, an associate professor of environmental studies at Taisho University.

During a citizens’ conference to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the city’s emergency declaration that it had exhausted its waste collection capabilities, Okayama, who was teaching at Nagoya University at the time, called for measures to visualize waste recycling programs to further reduce the city’s kitchen waste.

Last year, a song was created to promote the project, and this fall — the 10th anniversary of its launch — the Japan Committee for UNDB selected the project as one of the recipients of its Biodiversity Action Award, which highlights community activities linked to the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The UNDB was adopted in 2010 by the U.N. General Assembly and covers from 2011 to 2020, based on a recommendation made by the Japanese government during the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Nagoya the same year.

“We are happy that our project bore fruit in this milestone year,” Okayama said.

“We hope to further strengthen this recycling movement,” she said, pointing to plans to increase the number of farmers and stores participating in the project.

An event including a compost-making class and a lunch made with vegetables grown from it is scheduled to be held on Jan. 26 on the Ganmichi shopping street in Mizuho Ward at a cost of ¥2,000 per person. A cooking class using vegetables grown with the compost will be held Feb. 9 at Motoyama Seikyo Seikatsu Bunka Kaikan, a cooperative in Chikusa Ward, for ¥1,000 per person.

This section features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Dec. 15. For inquiries, call the Nagoya Municipal Government’s recycling promotion division at 052-972-2390.