Environmentally Friendly Living
All residents of Minamata City play a leading role in the City's aim to be a "Model Environmental City". In recognition and fulfilling the motto, "We ourselves will create and protect the area in which we live", we will work closely together to make our lifestyle environmentally friendly in our daily life so as to conserve the environment.
(1) Garbage Classification and Recycling
Since August 1993, in order to promote recyclable household garbage through sorting, the residents of Minamata City have planned a detailed garbage classification system; garbage was divided into 21 categories in the fiscal year 1999, and 23 categories since the fiscal year 2000.
The City provides one garbage collection station for each 500 - 100 households, with 300 stations around the City. Each area's assigned recycling volunteers take turn in groups of two or three to assist the residents who bring in garbage for sorting out recyclable materials by themselves.
Once a month the residents work together to classify garbage, an activity which revives the community spirit, and creates a place for residents to get together.
Besides classification, the Recycling Volunteers Committee promotes Taking-Back-Home- Garbage Campaign, Recycling Campaign, and organizes recycling fairs such as flea markets where reusable goods are sold.
Classification and collection flow
1. Municipal Environmental Clean Center distributes classified and labeled containers to each collection station once a month by 3p.m. on the day before the predetermined collection day.
2. The containers are sorted and distributed by the recycling volunteers.
3. Between the evening of the container distribution day and 8:30 a.m. on the collection day, the residents sort their garbage into the containers with the help of the recycling volunteers.
4. On the collection day, after garbage is being collected by 6 garbage trucks, the garbage in each category is then weighed and recorded according to districts.
5. Recyclable garbage is stored at the Environmental Clean Center and later sold to traders for recycling.
6. Profits from the sale of recyclable garbage are distributed to each district according to the weight of each district's recyclable garbage; large districts receive up to 600,000 yen a year and smaller districts about 70,000-80,000 yen.
(2) Women's Liaison Conference on Waste Reduction
Because of its effort to classify garbage, Minamata City has successfully reduced its waste output significantly, from 10,000 tons in 1992 to 8,000 tons in 1994.
However, it has become necessary to move beyond garbage classification to garbage reduction due to increasing garbage generation.
As a result, in December 1997, 16 women's groups, which have great interest in waste reduction, met together and organized the "Women's Liaison Conference on Waste Garbage" with the slogan of "Let's reduce the increasing garbage from each household!"
They actively encourage residents not to bring home items that are not absolutely required which may result in waste, to repair broken items and to buy recycled products when possible.
Overview of "Green Consumer Campaign"
||Making "An agreement to remove food trays" for 65 food items with four major supermarkets in the City.|
||Distributing "Eco-shopping bags" to all 12,480 households to promote their "Carrying a shopping bag with you" Campaign.|
|April & Dec 1999
||Conducting inspection checks for the certification of "Eco Shop," that is a shop which worked sufficiently toward making their shop environmentally friendly in terms of saving energy, recycling, and so on.|
As of March 2004, 14 shops have been certified as "Eco Shops".
||Signing of agreements to remove food trays for 76 food items.|
||Producing illustrated picture cards for a play to encourage waste reduction.|
||Awarded the "Healthy Garbage" Award.|
||ECO-SHOP qualification evaluation|
ECO-SHOP qualification evaluation
(3) My Home's ISO
ISO is an acronym for the "International Organization for Standardization." In February 1999, Minamata City was awarded ISO 14001 Certification for Environmental Management Systems.
At the suggestion of the Minamata's Junior Chamber of Commerce, the "My Home's ISO" Campaign, based on the ISO standard, was launched with the aim of spreading the program to promote environment-consciousness in each household.
In the program to conserve the sea, mountains, rivers and air of Minamata so as to pass them on to future generations, at present 80 households are participating in the environmentally friendly living. This includes the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, efficient use of resources, reduction of the burden on the environment and conservation of the environment. Each family member makes a declaration and regularly review on it, making conscious effort in playing a part.
(4) District environmental agreement
In addition to the motto "We will protect our living environment by ourselves," the District Environmental Agreement, which determines the rules of lifestyle regarding the environment, was made so that the local residents could conserve the local.
At present, seven districts have made the agreements that include the protection of surrounding rivers and their banks, forests and their water resources, reduction & recycling of household waste, and monitoring of illegal waste dumping.
(5) Eco-Shop certification system: making shops environmentally friendly
In April and December of 1999 and August of 2001, shops that were environmentally-conscious in terms of energy saving and waste reduction were recognized as "Eco-Shops." (As of August 2002, 12 shops have been recognized.)
As part of the effort of the Women's Liaison Conference on Waste Reduction to control the waste output in Minamata City, shops which meet more than 4 requirements out of 16-- such as promoting simple packaging, garbage recycling, and selling of Eco-marked products-- were inspected by the Women's Liaison Conference and awarded the title of "Eco Shop" by the City. Eco Shops are granted an Eco-Shop sticker and a certificate.
Making an Environmentally Friendly Region
(1) ISO 14001 Certification
On 23rd February 1999, Minamata received ISO 14001 Certification, which is awarded to businesses and self-governing bodies that develop measures to care for the environment.
Minamata was the first self-governing body in Kumamoto Prefecture, and the sixth in Japan, to achieve such Certification.
Minamata City's environment management system includes three categories: promotion of the development of a Model Environmental City, promotion of saving energy in order to reduce global warming, and promotions for reducing resource consumption by recycling garbage, and reducing electricity and petrol consumption at City Hall. In addition to these measures, the City has put into practice an 82-item management program which also includes first-hand recountings of Minamata disease experiences.
Furthermore, as a forerunner for other municipalities in acquiring international standard certification, we have improved the City's image. Our efforts toward the creation of a Model Environmental City in light of the impact of Minamata disease, have been widely recognized.
However, in order to promote independence and subjectivity among local municipalities beyond the prescribed ISO, we must effectively utilize the current system we have in place. As a means to improvement over a broad scope, we presented a Self-Declaration on September 30, 2003.
(2) ISO for Schools - Making schools environmentally friendly
In order to make schools in Minamata environmentally friendly, 16 primary and junior high schools in the city are working toward the "ISO for Schools" system.
This system was established by Minamata City in 2000, with ISO 14001 Certification as a start, in order to improve community knowledge of ISO.
At each school, the students and teachers share roles, declaring, recording and amending their own results following the statements "Save electricity, water and paper" and "Reduce leftovers and garbage." At present all 16 schools have been certified with ISO for Schools.
(3) ISO for Nursery Schools and Kindergartens
Establishment of ISO for nursery schools and kindergartens followed the ISO for schools in 2001, in order to preserve the sea, the mountains, the rivers and the air of Minamata and pass them on to future generations.
We declare, record and amend simple actions for children of these schools to attempt, in order to make nursery schools and kindergartens environmentally friendly
At present four nursery schools and kindergartens have been certified, and children there are now educated to have awareness of environmental issues.
(4) ISO for Hotels and Japanese-style Inns
This system was established at the same time as ISO for nursery schools and Kindergartens, and was made with the request from hotels and inns in Minamata.
In order not to be polluters, they hold themselves responsible for pollution and seek to preserve the sea, the mountains, the river and the air of Minamata. Thus they declared "Make an appeal for the customers to separate the garbage" and "Reduce the disposable containers by using shampoo and other refills," and they record, amend and seek to improve their actions.
At present three Japanese-style inns and one hotel have been certified.
(5) Regional Resource Map
In 1991, residents of Minamata established a self-governing organization, or "Yorokai," in each of the city's 26 districts, which came together and created Regional Resource Maps. Each district's Yorokai group researched local resources, such as eels and crabs in the rivers, flowering fern and bracken in the mountains, scabbard fish and horse mackerel in the sea, and huge ancient trees in the forests. They presented this information in pictorial maps.
These 26 maps, when brought together, show Minamata's natural features and atmosphere.
(6) Water Resource Map
Minamata city is located in a basin through which runs the Minamata River.
The Water Resources Map shows the source and flow of this water that we drink and use everyday.
In 1994, the city's Yorokai groups researched each district's waterways and produced 1:2500 scale maps. The map contains a plea to care for Minamata's waterways by returning only clean water to the rivers and ocean, in an effort to care for the rivers, mountains and ocean on which our lives are based.
(7) Creating biotopes
In 1998, in the Ishitobi District, and in 1999, in the Muta Wetlands, areas were set aside to map the symbiosis of surrounding the wildlife with human beings. In these areas, biotopes (Wildlife Habitat Areas) are being constructed and maintained. Even in only two years, in the Ishitobi district, previously unseen fireflies have been seen in swarms, rare Hatcho and Red Dragonflies have reappeared, the streams are full of Oily Dace and Hirumushiro grass again, and it has become a valuable space where people and nature can live together in harmony.
(8) Creating an Environmentally Symbiotic Region
From 1999 to 2001, the residents of Minanmata City were independently involved in efforts to improve symbiosis of humans and nature in the area. The people looked for and decided on an area, and the cost of improving it was subsidized by the city government.
"Field Supporting Project (1999 - 2000)"
Total cost: 2,656,000yen (2,429,000yen subsidized)
Creation of terraced fields with both flowers and fruit, Green tourism, terraced field music festival, and workshop of laying stones.
Schools Open to the Communities" project by the collaboration of residents in the area (1999)
Total cost: 939,000yen (898,000yen subsidized)
Creation of schools that make use of the area's natural features and environment.
Project for the development, investigation and collaboration of Green tourism that makes the best use of the natural features of Minamata and Fukuro Area (2000)
Total cost: 1,199,000yen (987,000yen subsidized)
Investigation on the area's natural resources and "Glossary of Seasonal Terms of HOTORI" of Fukuro Area was published.
Investigation and research to create experiencing of an environmental program with salad onions (2000)
Total cost: 1,691,000yen (1,252,000yen subsidized)
Creation of an experience program using "salad onions" which is a safe and reliable product of Fukuro Area.
Yunotsuru Environmentally Symbiotic Project (1999 - 2000)
Total cost: 3,401,000yen (3,321,000yen subsidized)
A Workshop on the future of the region was held with residents, and the use of the area's natural resources was discussed.
Eastern Area Development Promotion Project (1999 - 2000)
Total cost: 2,192,000yen (2,096,000yen subsidized)
Investigation for safe and reliable agricultural products that make use of, abundant resources in the area, and interchange between urban and rural areas.
Ishizakagawa Environment Agreement Promotion Project (in 2000)
Total cost: 1,491,000yen (1,180,000yen subsidized)
Kitchen garbage has been put to good use as compost; wood and bamboo charcoal have been used in order to preserve the living environment; and the area has been activated to use the natural resources of this Area.
Environmentally Friendly Shopping Arcade Project (in 2001)
Total cost: 1,690,000yen (1,000,000yen subsidized)
Introduction of a tin can collecting machine and research on environmentally friendly shopping arcade.
(9) Creating a City for Environmental Learning
Conducting environmental study trips
As concern deepens for the state of the environment, people are searching for solutions to the global environmental problems that the 21st Century has brought to the world. Minamata is fulfilling its role and making use of the lesson it has learned from Minamata Disease by distributing information concerning the environment.
In 2001, approximately 6,900 school children visited Minamata to learn about the environment.
A "General Learning Time" was established, to begin operation in 2002. It consists of hands-on problem solving, with "International Understanding," "Information," "Environment," "Welfare," and "Health" being keywords.
With its history of Minamata Disease as a base, Minamata, which is working toward improving relations and creating a Model Environmental City, is preparing for study trips of the next generation.
From now on, in order to maintain this platform on which to conduct study excursions, the city is looking toward constructing human network and education programs such as garbage classification experiences and an Eco-town facility visit.
Oral History Program (begun October 1994)
At the Minamata Disease Memorial Museum, Minamata Disease patients tell visitors of their experiences. At present there are ten patients participating in the program.
Minamata guide Program (begun September 1996)
Residents of Minamata introduce Minamata's history and culture, and its revival after Minamata Disease. Twenty residents, including office workers, homemakers and farmers, are currently registered as guides.
Study Trip Invitation Committee (established June 1997)
A pamphlet containing the Environmental Study Model Course was released, and public activity begun.
Study Trip Invitation Conference (begin June 1999)
Relationships are established with travel agents, study trip courses are designed, and substantial invitation activity unfolds.
Promotion of Green Tourism
Minamata City is planning the promotion of Green Tourism, utilizing the entire city. The creation of this rich environment is linked to Green Tourism and the stimulation of local economics.
In April 1999, a group of nine farmers, foresters and district administrative heads came together to form the Minamata Green Tourism Research Group.
In order that Green Tourism takes root in Minamata's lifestyle and natural features, they are sending and receiving information and looking toward promoting business strategies.
2 - 4 October 1998: Eco Minamata Field Tour
20 Green Tourism and media-related people took part in three different tour areas: town, mountains and sea. Opinions and comments were collected.
29 - 30 May 1999: Monitor Tour 1
19 citizens participated in three different tour areas: Mountain Life (Kugino Area), Ocean Life (Fukuro Area) and Hot Spring Life (Yunotsuru Area)
22 - 24 September 1999: Monitor Tour 2
Entitled "A Taste of Minamata in Autumn," 17 media-related guests became monitors and participated in three different tour areas: Living with Nature and Water (Ishitobi Area), Living in the mountains (Kugino Area) and Living with Hot springs (Yunotsuru Areat). They prepared reports following their tours.
(10) Environmentally friendly traffic
Minamata City is encouraging the use of bicycles as a healthy means of transport, which is more important than convenience.
Responding to Kyoto Conference on Climate Change in December 1996, Japan is to reduce its green house gas emissions by 6% during the period between 2008 and 2012.
In order to achieve the goal of reduction, it is important for every car user to refrain from frequent drives, and Minamata's promotion of bicycle use is to contribute, even in a small way, toward addressing the world's environmental problems.
Since November 1997, the Cycling Promotion Committee, consisting of 20 people in Minamata, has hosted lecture meetings and cycling races, and has produced and distributed a "Minamata Cycling Map." They also have investigated bicycle usage among children, as well as holding an illustration contest for their mascot, "Charizo-kun".
Moreover, to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, the city has purchased two hybrid cars for official use.
(11) New Energy Vision
Minamata City recognizes energy problems as an important challenge for the achievement of Minamata becoming a "Model Environmental City," and for the solution of global environmental problems. Moreover, we believe that all citizens can join in this effort by beginning to face this challenge in their home. To that end, citizens and the city administration met together and drew up the "New Energy Vision" in March 1998, to clarify the attitude for the prevention of global warming and for the control of carbon dioxide emission.
The vision includes concrete approaches to promote energy savings and to introduce new energy systems at public facilities. Installment of solar panels at public facilities, control of power consumption, and introduction of hybrid cars have been specific approaches so far.
Innovative plans for energy saving and energy introduction based on the "Vision" are going to take shape step by step in future.
Energy saving measures
- Various approaches to stop wasting electric power are in practice in City Hall, such as air conditioner thermostat control, promotion of turning lights out during lunch break, and in enforcement of avoiding overtime work. Now those practices are included in the "ISO 14001" as itemized challenges.
- The serial ISO at home, school, nursery school, kindergarten, Ryokan and hotel elaborates the specific instruction to the effective use of electric appliances including refrigerator, TV, and air conditioner. It also recommends controlling the frequent driving of cars as well as wasting the electric power at home and at school. Reducing gasoline and kerosene consumption are also the itemized challenges in serial ISO.
- 2 hybrid cars are introduced for official use.
- Bicycle oriented-city planning is promoted in the collaboration with citizens.
New energy introduction
- Solar panels are installed on the roof- top of both Moyai Center and City Auditorium sky-bridge. The power generated on the roof is used in the Center.
- Streetlights with solar systems are applied at Eco-park Minamata and Ozaki Waterfront Green Park.
(12) Ecotown plan
Ecotown plan is to promote the establishment of an advanced and environmentally harmonious city under a cooperative project initiated by Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (present Ministry of International Trade and Industry) and Ministry of Health and Welfare (present Ministry of Environment) in 1997. With the ministerial approval, comprehensive and diversified supports are available.
Minamata City established a main promotion office in June 1999, and started deliberation on its Ecotown plan differentiation (focusing on the innovation and modeling aspects), and the plan that was established through such process was approved in February 2001.
Now, recycling facilities for electric appliances; a recycling and reusing industry for bottles; recycling industries for used oil, used tires, and waste plastics; fertilizer manufacture using raw sewage; and a complex renewal system for plastic resins are in operation, and future promotion of these industries is as well encouraged under the plan.
Eco Model City Promotion Section
Tel : +81-966-61-1606
Fax : +81-966-62-0611