Drinks with tapioca pearls, also known as boba or bubble tea, is the newest trend to take over both Harajuku and the Instagram feeds. Unfortunately this new craze only offers a take-out option and has since brought on a serious rubbish issue. Empty plastic cups are spilling out of trash bins and being discarded on crowded walkways. Some desperate tapioca addicts have even resorted to sticking their empty cup in the bins next to vending machines, which are meant for recyclable drink cans and plastic bottles.
Now there's a solution that's just as cute and Instagrammable as the drink itself. A specialised bubble tea trash bin was installed in Harajuku on August 1 and is a refuge for the leftover drinks with no place to go. This new trash bin is a collaboration between Greenbird, a non-profit organisation dedicated to a clean environment, and Xie Xie Pearl, a shop known for its brown sugar flavoured teas and milky tapioca pearls. The trash bin lets drinkers enjoy their favourite beverage responsibly while simultaneously combating the rising litter issue.
Tokyoites know how picky the city is about disposing trash. Garbage must be divided into categories and these bubble tea cups walk a fine line between recyclable plastic bottle and regular combustible garbage. This new bin now turns the popular drink into a guilt-free, environmentally conscious act. Users can easily separate the leftover liquid and the plastic cup into two separate compartments. This ensures the cup will be properly recycled. For every cup collected in this bin, ¥1 will be donated to Greenbird's environmental causes.
This trash bin is available from 1pm to 6pm and closed on Tuesdays. You'll find the bin in front of the community space subaCO, located within a minute's walk from Meiji Jingumae Station.
Find the trash bin at 6-31-21 Jingumae. In the meantime, learn how you can reduce your plastic use in Tokyo and Japan with our handy guide.