An increasing number of people are bringing their domestic waste directly to Numanohata Clean Center, a waste treatment facility in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, apparently due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing them to spend more time at home and motivating them to tidy up.
The number of vehicles coming to the facility reached a record high in May, with the site charging only ¥140 to dispose of 10 kilograms of unnecessary items. However, the wait can last two hours, so the city has asked its citizens to visit in the morning or evening to avoid congestion.
Usually, Numanohata Clean Center sees about 100 vehicles a day. However, according to the city, the number of vehicles grew 37 percent to 4,624 in May compared with the same period the previous year, while April saw a 14 percent year-on-year increase.
Operations were particularly busy on May 4, when 351 vehicles came to the facility. Tableware, blocks and wood, among other items, were prominent among the discarded items.
According to a survey from the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, “throwing away and cleaning household items” was the top activity for people staying at home during the state of emergency. In Tomakomai, many people apparently wanted to avoid keeping a large amount of rubbish until their garbage collection date, prompting them to directly bring it to the center.
Waste treatment capacities were not significantly affected, though, since the amount of rubbish brought to the center represented only a few percent of the total volume of waste.
However, the center can get congested from around 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. when the city’s garbage trucks also stop by. There have been times that they got caught up in traffic and their work was delayed as a result, even though priority was given to them.
“On top of a ‘decluttering’ trend that has been going on for several years, more people are staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed people to come and throw out their belongings on their own,” a city official said.
To avoid heavy traffic, the official urges people to avoid the 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. time frame.
This section features topics and issues from Hokkaido covered by the Hokkaido Shimbun, the largest newspaper in the prefecture. The original article was published on June 5.