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MISAWA, Japan — Some 600 Americans living off base are getting schooled in recycling.

Trash rules for American families whose homes are outside Misawa city limits changed this month, according to base housing officials.

Americans living in Oirase and Rokunohe towns must separate burnable from non-burnable items.

Within Misawa city, unsorted trash is picked up and separated by a city contractor, according to Shuichi Kitamura of Tohoku Planning, a housing agency in Misawa.

The contractor for many years had also collected unsorted trash for Americans living outside the city, Kitamura said.

As a general rule, however, trash within a community is supposed to be handled by contractors to the municipality, Kitamura said.

The issue was overlooked in the past, but a change was recently ordered, reportedly driven by higher fuel costs, with trash to be handled by local contractors within each community.

Japanese residents are held to even more stringent sorting requirements, but they don’t have to pay a trash collection fee. The fee for Americans living off base is 2,500 yen (about $25) per month. The fee remains unchanged, according to base housing officials.

Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

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