A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Cost of Waste Management in Tsukuba

How much does it cost to handle all of the garbage we produce in Tsukuba?

In the 2006 fiscal year, the City of Tsukuba spent 3,463,000,000 yen (around US$29 million) on waste treatment.

  • 52,500,000 yen (around US$450,000) was spent on collecting household waste and the waste from the pipelines in the central part of the city (both of which are commissioned to an external company)
  • 1,059,000,000 yen (around US$9 million) was spent on maintaining and running the Clean Center (waste disposal and incineration plant)
  • 113,000,000 yen (around US$970,000) was spent on human resources
  • 1,766,000,000 yen (around US$15 million) went to pay back the loan for constructing the facilities (the loan should be paid off in full by 2011)

83,211 tons of garbage was collected last year, so the City is spending 41,600 yen (around US$360) to process each ton of garbage, or around 42 yen (36 cents) per kilogram. For reference, the amount of garbage produced by one family in a year is around 264 kg, or around 723 g per day.

Does the Clean Center make money?

Processing household garbage results in thermal recycling and resource recycling. Thermal recycling refers to the electricity that is produced from the heat from incinerating garbage. Resource recycling refers to collecting and sorting waste items so that they can be recycled. The Clean Center sells the electricity and recyclable resources and returns the revenues to the City. In 2006, revenues from selling electricity to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) were 116,000,000 yen and resource recycling brought in 82,000,000 yen. A further 559,000,000 yen was brought in through fee-based services such as the collection of large garbage items (sodai gomi) and commercial waste. In total, the Clean Center brings in around 757,000,000 yen which is then used to cover part of the costs of processing the garbage.

How much money does each person cost the city in garbage management?

If we take the total cost of processing Tsukuba’s garbage and subtract the amount that is covered through fees paid by commercial establishments and the revenues brought in by the Clean Center, we are left with a total of 276,000,000 yen that must be covered by the City of Tsukuba. If the population of Tsukuba is given at 203,280 people (as of October 1, 2006), we can see that Tsukuba spends 13,300 yen per person per year, or 53,200 yen per four-person household per year to process garbage.

Source: Tsukuba City Newsletter, September 1, 2007

I’m sure that money could be better spent on education, or improving the roads, or making the city more foreigner-friendly. This is a good incentive for Tsukuba residents to re-assess the amount of garbage that they produce and try to limit non-recyclable waste as much as possible.


  • chris heier says:

    How is waste generally “incinerated” in japan? I had noticed that most places separate combustibles from the non. I know Hitachi has a gasification plant in japan for WTE (waste to energy) but wasn’t certain if they are the primary handler of burnable waste or not. There is a decent difference between incineration and gasification in that I feel gasification is a better solution.

  • Shaney says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I think that most municipalities in Japan have their own facilities for incinerating the combustible waste that is generated within their boundaries, so there is not a centralized system. My guess is that there are some gasification plants here and there, but that the general trend is still incineration. However, I am not a specialist in this field, so I cannot speak on this subject with any authority. Luckily, I have a colleague who is a specialist, so I will ask him your question and let you know what he says. (It may take some time because he is very busy.)