Yokohama’s Municipal Government says “Mottainai—What a waste!”

 “In Japan, there is so much packaging. Everything is wrapped three, four, five times. . . . If you could stop all the packaging, there wouldn’t be so much garbage to sort” said a Yokohama resident to the Japan Times in 2005.

This testimony expresses Japan’s Mottainai mentality – the feeling of regret over the waste of something valuable.

Boasting 3.7 million people, Yokohama is Japan’s second largest city after Tokyo. Yet, despite an increase in population over the years, the city’s waste generation actually fell by 43% between the fiscal years of 2001 and 2009, thanks to the implementation of the ambitious “Yokohama G30 Plan”. The waste reduction even saw two incineration plants close down, saving the Municipal Government about one billion dollars.

As a natural follow up to the G30 Plan’s success, the Yokohama 3R Dream Plan was formulated in January 2011 to further in circular development by reducing, reusing, and recycling resources. It aims to reduce total waste disposal by more than 10%, and associated greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% by 2050 compared to 2009 levels.

Yokohama plans to further reduce waste and CO2 emissions via its 3R Dream Plan.

Yokohama is a clear success story of how a local government can lay down a vision and ambitious goals, influencing every other decision made by itself as well as by its businesses and citizens.

By expressing Mottainai in regard to physical waste, the Municipal Government is also saying Mottainai to itself as a reminder for other local governments not to waste their potential to enact change.


ARITA, E. (2005, December 31). Yokohama leads way in trash separation. Japan Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019, from

Japan, City of Yokohama Resources & Waste Recycling Bureau, Resources and Waste Policy Division. (2011, January). Yokohama 3RDream! Yokohama Municipal Solid Waste Management Master Plan. Retrieved June 28, 2019, from

ICLEI East Asia Secretariat. (2018, September). Building Green Circular Cities Post Event Report. Retrieved June 28, 2019, from

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