Vending machines have come under fire lately for being bad for the environment, as inefficient 24-hour operation leads to significant amounts of electricity being wasted. Especially in Japan, there are over 5.4million vending machines (as of Dec 2007). Half of them are for beverages and it is said that if we eliminated ALL of them we could reduce at least ONE nuclear reactor (out of the total 55). Now, Ikoma City in Nara Prefecture is standing up and doing something about it.
The city is aiming to eliminate all non-essential vending machines from city facilities such as parks and gymnasiums within a 6-month period started in April, 2008. Currently, there are 39 cigarette and drinks vending machines in Ikoma, but the city is looking to get rid of as many as possible. Those that are considered necessary, such as sports drinks vending machines at the gymnasium, will be replaced with energy-efficient varieties.
Ikoma City has a history of environmental awareness, with a 2001 campaign there on Eco-Offices - dedicated to reducing wasteful energy use in offices by switching off lights and air-conditioners when not in use.
Furthermore, building on last year's Environmental Manufacturing Trade Show, "Ecoma" (from ECO-MAnufacturing), as of this summer, the city will be providing subsidies for the installation of home solar panels.
Makoto Yamashita, the young mayor of the city, says:
"Today, local governments find themselves in an extremely difficult financial situation, and our city is no exception. Yet, the devolution of authority to local governments is ongoing, and the discretionary power of municipalities is growing. To respond to these trying circumstances, I want to bring greater efficiency to municipal operations and communicate Ikoma's new techniques for urban development throughout the country in a manner that will earn us acclaim as a model government in this era of decentralization."
Ikoma, at least, is turning its attention to some of the major environmental problems faced in Japan. Perhaps the mayor of Tokyo, Mr. Ishihara, would do well to follow to follow their lead.
Brought to you by Luke at greenz.jp