Faced with rapid population growth and constraints on space for depositing ash from waste incineration, Yokohama chose the one option: reduce waste through increased reuse and recycling citywide. The 3R Dream Planxxxix 2010-2025, adopted in January 2011, aims to “reduce garbage while continuing the separation and recycling of garbage, to deal with global warming and to reduce CO2 emissions; (and) to realize comfortable and liveable city where garbage is controlled by pursuing safe, secure, and stable garbage processing” (3R Dream Plan, 2011xl). The Plan puts the cooperation between citizens, companies and the city government at the centre and encourages behaviour change in order to increase recycling and to reduce waste. The Yokohama 3R Dream Plan teaches manufacturers to use recycled and recyclable materials during production and urges businesses to sell eco-friendly products and services, which will lead to fewer resources imported and used and, ultimately, wasted. Residents are encouraged through an extensive promotion and education campaign to participate by managing their household waste, reusing plastic bags and water bottles, and supporting environmentally friendly businesses. Residents invited to tens of thousands of resident briefings, as well as engaged through more than 2,000 campaigns at collection points and hundreds of campaigns at train stations.
Thanks to Yokohama’s continued efforts (G30 Plan 2002-2010 and 3R Dream Plan 2010-2025xli), the city has already reduced waste by 45% from a peak of 1.61 million tons in 2001. The 3R Dream Plan in particular concentrates on expanding waste reduction efforts while the city population is growing. Yokohama thus aims to reduce total generation of garbage by more than 10% by 2025 from 2009 levels (it has already reduced more than 3% in 2013) and to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2025 compared to 2009 (having already reduced more than 10% in 2013). Yokohama thus aims to reduce 71,000 tons of CO2 annually by 2017 and more than 141,000 tons of CO2 by 2025. The successful promotion and education campaign has also led to a number of co-benefits, such as converting enough waste to energy to power 170,000 households for one full day thanks to residents collecting their kitchen waste.
Reasons for success
Yokohama has been able to progressively reduce waste generation while sustaining economic development by creating a participatory environment for government, industry, commerce, consumers and the general population. This is only achievable when there are transparent mechanisms that avoid conflicts of interest.
When/why a city might apply an approach like this
As waste reduction and avoidance becomes a general target for most cities facing diminishing landfill capacities or general demand for better waste and resource management, experiences like the ones developed at Houston and Yokohama will provide useful lessons in driving towards a closed-loop economy and the requirements to engage all sectors of society.
C40 Good Practice Guides
C40's Good Practice Guides offer mayors and urban policymakers roadmaps for tackling climate change, reducing climate risk and encouraging sustainable urban development. With 100 case studies taken from cities of every size, geography and stage of development around the world, the Good Practice Guides provide tangible examples of climate solutions that other cities can learn from.
All references can be found in the full guide.