The History of Recycling: A Glimpse

recycling card

The History of Recycling: A Glimpse

In today’s world, recycling is valued by the bulk of society. However, in the past, it was not always that way. Recycling became more and more prominent through the years, starting slowly, and building gradually into what it is today.

In order to understand today’s recycling processes, it’s important to understand recycling’s history. Here is a glimpse at the history of recycling. 

6th Century BC

The 500s BC marked the first time in recorded history that citizens were legally required to dispose of their waste in an organized manner. This occurred in ancient Greece, and in particular, Athens.

Citizens were required to dump their waste at least a mile outside of the city limits. This was done in order to prevent foul odors spreading through the city air.

11th Century AD

From the 500s BC to the 1000s AD, not much progress was made in the way waste was disposed of or recycling. However, in 1031 AD, Japan became the first recorded country to start reusing paper products.

Waste paper files of all types were discarded, turned into paper pulp, and reconstructed to be used once again. The new paper products were then sold by businesses all across the country.

17th Century AD

Again, not much progressed with waste or recycling from the 1000s to the 1600s. But eventually, in 1690, Americans discovered how to industrialize the paper recycling process devised in Japan.

The industrialized process saw its birth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a mill known as the Rittenhouse Mill. The mill would not only make new paper products out of used paper, but out of clothing and towels as well.

19th Century AD

While sporadic recycling efforts occurred between the 1600s and the 1800s, no truly remarkable innovations occurred until 1865 AD. It was in this year that the Salvation Army was founded.

First established in London, England, the organization saw the need for widespread recycling efforts during Great Britain’s industrial revolution. It would attempt to recycle everything found in the waste bins of factories around the city.

It wasn’t long before the organization gained prominence and opened in New York City. Once the New York City facility was established, it began the practice of sorting different recyclable items into different piles. At this point, recycling had become truly industrialized.

20th Century AD

After it became industrialized in the 1800s, recycling started to become more and more accepted and implemented. Through the 1900s, recycling efforts were being taken up everywhere.

In 1904, factories were opened to solely accommodate the recycling of aluminum cans. These factories existed in the cities of Cleveland and Chicago.

Soon after, in 1916, the United States would enter World War I. In both this war and World War II, recycling was an integral part of the arms manufacturing process.

Gradual growth in recycling processes would occur through the rest of the 1900s with the first Earth Day occurring in 1970.

Recycling had become part of the culture in the United States, and throughout the rest of the world as well. Innovations are occurring to this day, and fortunately, don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.  

Be a Part of the History of Recycling

Recycling has never been more valued than it is now. Looking to join in on today’s recycling efforts so that you can be a part of the history of recycling? If so, we here at Lakeshore Recycling Systems can help you.

We assist with recycling implementations to anyone in need from individuals, to organizations, to businesses, and otherwise. Whether you need recycling bins, waste bins, or dumpsters, we can accommodate you.  When Chicago needs recycling services, they turn to Lakeshore.

Contact us to get started!

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