According to The ABC News Australia, in Japan, where land is a scarce resource, just 1 per cent of council waste ends up in landfill, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Much of Japan's waste is burnt at one of the 1,000-plus incinerators dotted around the country.
In Australia, since the 1970s, backyard incineration and open burning at landfills has declined sharply due to health concerns.
But burning is now back on the agenda in the wake of China's recyclables ban.
Osaka's Maishima plant cost $730.5 million and handles a quarter of Osaka's rubbish.
The facility's manager said while the cost may seem expensive, the plant provided value to the community by reducing waste and generating electricity.
Incineration plants have prompted health concerns and Japan implemented extremely strict laws in the early 2000s to alleviate fears.
"At the same time, all of the small size incinerators which were not able to burn at high temperature were shut down as they generated dioxins," waste economist Shusaku Yamaya said.
"Japan now has large-scale incinerators which cover big areas and cleared the dioxin problem.
"But it cost a huge amount of money to build incinerators so it was inevitable that the waste management cost went up."
Waste-to-energy projects may be expanded to help tackle the growing recycling crisis in Australia, according to Minister for Energy and Environment Josh Frydenberg.
But Professor Yamaya warns the capital costs of incineration plants are significant and said it was an imperfect solution for Australia.
"I think it's most important to think about waste prevention," he said.
"[Australia] should build the minimum number of incineration facilities and not burn in large scale.
"[But they are useful because] the waste becomes [a fraction] of its size after burning and I think it'll have a significant effect as it can also extend the life of the final landfill sites.
"Also it's essential to build a high-level incineration facility which can reuse the energy as much as possible."
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