Trash cans make techy return to Japan as tourists flood cities

OSAKA, Nov 19 ( - Japan has long managed to keep its streets spotless despite having no trash cans in sight, but cities are now turning to “smart” bins as tourist numbers — and the amount of garbage — surges.

This week, the tourist-heavy Dotonbori district in Osaka installed about 20 new technologically enabled garbage cans called SmaGO.

Solar panels allow the trash can to automatically sense when it is getting full and then compress the garbage by about 20 percent. It is also connected to a smartphone app that analyzes data on garbage volume and sends alerts to workers before it fills up.

Following the 1995 poison gas terrorist attack by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Tokyo, waste receptacles disappeared from many public spaces in Japan, although they can now be found in heavy-traffic areas such as major train stations. Maiko Kimura, town beautification manager of Osaka’s Environment Bureau, said the city completely removed them as a way to deal with overflowing garbage and resulting complaints from citizens.

However, with the number of inbound tourists surpassing pre-COVID-19 levels last month, trash is becoming more common on Japanese city streets. ...continue reading