TOKYO, Japan — The issue of waste management is an issue for many industrialized nations around the globe. With its large population density, the bustling city of Tokyo is no exception. In an attempt to curb the rising rate of waste, the city’s Chiyoda ward has begun a new recycling initiative aimed at the one of the region’s primary source of waste. The program, dubbed New Laifu for Old Waifu (NLOW), specifically targets proper disposal methods for unwanted figures, primarily of anime and manga characters, with a hope to significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by the city.
“The disposable nature of seasonal waifus leads to a dramatic increase of figurine based waste every quarter,” Yoshida Nishikomi, manager of the program, stated.
“Years ago, the average retention rate for waifu was much higher than it is today. These days, many waifu can be forgotten and disposed of within as little as 6 months. People are quick to move on to the next seasonal girl who is getting all the attention at the moment which has led to thousands upon thousands of unwanted figures ending up in our landfills.”
In the past, the city would deal with disposed figures by simple incinerating them but concerns over air pollution caused by the brightly colored paints have halted the practice. The NLOW program works to salvage the plastics used in many figures for use in manufacturing new products. Figures are melted down and turned into more useful items such as plastic cups, garbage bins, step stools, and adult diapers.
“We have had great success with the program so far,” Nishikomi explained to Anime Maru. “Those Hestia figures are particularly useful right now; we get pallets of them coming in every day and the excessive plastic in the chest pieces allows us to salvage a lot of material out of them during the recycling process.”
Tokyo hopes to expand to other municipalities in the near future. The city is also looking into a program for properly disposing of pillows. For now, NLOW says that all common figures are accepted for recycling with the exception of Funko Pops which the organization says are “better off left in the trash.”