Planet Of The Year: The Good News: Japan Gives Trash a Second Chance

With a barely audible whoosh, the large doors at the entrance open to a spacious glass-walled hall filled with lush green plants and the soothing sound of a trickling miniature waterfall. But the sleek municipal building in Machida, a bustling city in central Japan, is not a pristine botanical garden. The enticing entrance is merely the facade of a $65 million facility built to handle a dirty job: recycling the wastes of the city's 340,000 residents. "We collect roughly 100,000 tons of garbage a year and convert it back into valuable materials," says a smiling Kenichi Usui, a city waste-management official....

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