A Timeline of the History of Waste Collection
Human beings have had to dispose of their waste since time began, and with its impact on our health and environment, it’s a crucial part of society. But, of course, we didn’t always have weekly refuse collection or local recycling centres. We didn’t even have the same kinds of rubbish that we do now. So how did waste collection work in the past? We’ve put together a timeline to show you how things worked from as far back as 2000 BC.
2000 BC: China starts composting around this time, even using manure as fertiliser.
1500 BC: Knossos, the capital of Crete, uses special sites to dig pits, which are filled with waste and then covered with soil.
500 BC: Athens bans the dumping of waste within a mile of the city.
200 AD: Rome have dedicated rubbish picking teams, who walk the streets collecting rubbish.
250 AD: The Mayan Indians of Central America burn waste at dedicated waste disposal sites and recycle rubbish for other uses.
1200 AD: Waste dumping in Britain is at an all-time high, so a law is passed dictating that the fronts of all homes must be kept clear.
1300 AD: The Plague spreads through parts of Europe and Africa, and poor waste disposal only adds to the problem. ‘Rakers’ are in place to rake human waste from the gutters, and later, all refuse from the streets, and empty it into the rivers, which is later banned.
1400 AD: A new British law is brought about, stating that all rubbish is to stay inside houses until the rakers arrive to remove it.
1500 AD: Special allowances are made in England for the collection of rags for paper-making.
1600 AD: America’s first paper mill, Rittenhouse Mill, opens, making paper from recycled paper, cotton, and linen.
1700 AD: Often considered the start of the environmental movement, Benjamin Franklin petitions to prevent commercial waste being dumped in Philadelphia, as well as starting the first street-cleaning operation. Metal recycling happens for the first time when a statue of King George III is melted down and used for bullets. Slaves are used to carry waste downstream.
1800 AD: Poor sanitation is linked to disease by researchers in Britain, and the ‘Age of Sanitation’ is launched, with the Public Health Act of 1948 beginning waste regulations. Over in Washington DC, rubbish and waste being dumped in the streets mean that the city is filled with roaming animals, and infested with pests such as rats and cockroaches. Great Britain builds the first ‘destructor’, which burn fuel to create electricity. The British Public Health Act of 1875 is created.
1900 AD: Regular refuse collection is common. World War I and II shortages mean that throwing away waste is discouraged and recycling becomes more common. Waste is separated into types, for different types of disposal. The Solid Waste Disposal Act is replaced by the Resource Recovery Act in 1968 and the US government is required to issue rubbish disposal guidelines. In 1972, the first buy-back centers are opened in Washington, paying for glass bottles, tins, and newspapers. 1986 sees the first state mandatory recycling law in Rhode Island.
2000 AD: The US EPA finds that 4.38lb of solid waste per person is generated and around 35% of that is recycled or composted. Apex Regional Landfill becomes the largest landfill in the US. The world becomes ever more aware of the global warming crisis and unorganic waste is encouraged to be kept at a minimum, with recycling becoming more popular than ever. Upcycling becomes a big trend in the Western world, with environmentally-conscious people choosing to reuse or repurpose old items instead of throwing away.
Include source: https://beginwiththebin.org/resources/for-education