Japan generally concerns environment and they put extra effort to protect the nature what we have left. Individually, they bring their own handkerchief when they go to public bathroom, and they bring their own chopsticks. As a country, they invented a hybrid car to reduce exhaust emission.
As for trash, generally they started to divided recycled items from burnable trash from years ago and it used to be very simple. Like it was required to separate from glasses, and plastics.
The city I am from, Kamakura is one of the strict cities when you separate trash. And expensive.
The photo I added above is the schedule when you can throw what items. The schedule is very detail and confusing. For example, Monday and Thursday: burnable trash such as raw trash like veggie skin, fruits, fish, meat, leather, shoes, stationaries, CD etc. Tuesday: something you can not burn such as can, glass, metal, umbrella, dishes, cups. Once a month And burnable trash separately such as paper, newspapers, books, magazines, fabrics. Once a week. Wednesday: plastic bottles, plants. Once a week. And it goes on and on.
The rule: There is a booklet to guide you how to separate trash correctly. You have to buy specific bag to throw the trash and it costs 80 yen (75 cents) on each bag. You have to put your name on the bag so then the patrol can check and return your trash to you if you put something wrong item in it. If the weight of trash bag excesses the limit, you have to wait till the following week. 45 litter per bag.
The goal: I just made a quick research about the reason behind it. Every year, citizens of Kamakura produces 4 tons of trash every year. Their ultimate goal is “zero waste”. To get to close to the goal, they want to reduce it 1 ton less each year. The city wants every single citizen to be smart about waste and save resources if it’s possible. That’s why they are super strict about it.
I think the government needs to be THIS serious about wastes nowadays considering global warming. At the individual level, you need “motivation” to separate the trash in this much details. If we have this rule in United States or even starting it small, in Los Angeles, can we do this? There are a lot of people concern the environment so it is possible. However, we do need some “education” to follow this rule and it is a big commitment.