The History of Recycling

  • 500 B.C.

In the western world, Athens created the first municipal waste disposal program.

  • 1031

The first ever recorded reuse of paper in history happens in Japan.

  • 1690

This year was the introduction of manufactured recycled paper.

  • 1776

Recycling is used for materials during the War of Independence in America

  • 1865

In London, England, the Salvation Army is founded, and they begin collecting, sorting, and recycling items.

  • 1897

New York City creates a recovery facility for materials. “Picking yards” are utilized to sort trash into various grades of carpet, metals, and carpet. Also, rubber, twine, horsehair, and burlap bags

  • 1900s

“Waste as Wealth” is adopted as a phrase to describe money that is earned from sorting and reselling household trash items.

  • 1904

Chicago and Cleveland open the first aluminum can recycling plants in the United States.

  • 1916 to 1918

The Waste Reclamation Service is created in the United States during World War I.

  • 1930s

Peddling items is used as a survival mechanism during the Great Depression.

  • 1940s

Goods are recycled to support World War II efforts.

  • 1955

Convenience and ease emerge as desirable qualities in product marketing, which leads to the rise of litter on highways, parks, and forests.

  • 1964

Cans made entirely of aluminum are introduced, and the aluminum industry will begin creating a system to facilitate the recycling of used beverage containers.

  • 1965 to 1970

The famous Mobius Loop is introduced as a symbol for Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

  • 1970

The first Earth Day is used to bring awareness to the importance of recycling.

  • 1971

Oregon introduces an incentivization program to encourage people to recycle.

  • 1972

In Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, the first recycling mill is built.

In Alberta, Canada, province-wide beverage container recycling regulations first arose.

  • 1974

University City, MO offers curbside recycling to residents.

  • 1976

The Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act is put in place.

  • 1981

Woodbury, New Jersey becomes the first city in the US to mandate recycling.

  • 1987

A garbage-filled boat called The Mobro traveled along the East Coast of the United States looking for a place to dump items. A public discussion about waste management started and the event served as a catalyst for the growing recycling movement.

  • 1990

McDonalds stops using Styrofoam cups.

  • 1996

The U.S. recycles at a 25% rate.

  • 2000

A link between waste and global warming is confirmed by the EPA.

  • 2006

Dell begins a free recycling service for their products, which sparked the movement of recycling electronic waste.

  • 2007

Five states pass laws mandating the recycling of unwanted electronics.

  • 2012

Over 585,000,000 pounds of consumer electronics are recycled.

  • 2015

California bans plastic bags being in grocery and convenience stores.

  • 2016

Japanese scientists discovered a bacteria species that eats plastics usually found in water bottles.

  • 2017

An engineer at Stanford and her team crafted a new semiconductor that is as flexible as skin and biodegradable. This new tech could help drastically decrease e-waste moving forward.