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When I travel to Japan, I occasionally bring back a few items with me (not an awful lot), and they have recyclable containers. Most commonly, I have items categorized as plastic:

Japanese recycling for plastic. The katakana says プラ

(Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recycling_in_Japan#Symbols)

I'd like to recycle the items in Australia (Randwick council), but I have two concerns:

  1. Are items designed for recycling in one country recyclable in another country?
  2. Will the item being categorized under a different recycling scheme (and in a different language and alphabet!) cause any problems?
  • Good question. Wikipedia says the symbol just means "recyclable plastic", which doesn't help at all in mapping it to the recycling codes we're used to seeing in Europe. – EnergyNumbers Mar 1 '13 at 15:01
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One of the big difficulties with this question is that different countries may be, well, different. In the case in question, all we know is that the plastic is listed as recyclable in Japan but not categorized in Western systems, which seem almost obsessed with categorization for determining what they can recycle or not. For this reason I think the mismatch between Japan and Western countries is likely to be high enough to cause issues for the recycling system. Between Canada in the US, or between Australia and Germany, the situation may be very different however.

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