Timeline of recycling
This is a timeline of recycling.
|Time period||Development summary|
|Ancient times||As early as 400 BC, people are known to recycle. Archaeological evidence indicates that glass is recycled in the ancient city of Sagalassos, (Turkey), during the imperial Byzantine times. Early Romans are also found to recycle bronze coins into statues that could be sold at a higher monetary value than the original coins. Bronze scrap recovery systems are developed in Europe|
|18th Century||Industrial revolution. It becomes easier and cheaper to produce goods, it is also easier and sometimes cheaper to throw used items away.|
|19th Century||Scrap metal is purchased by sold by railroads. "Dustmen" collect ash from coal fires, in order to use it as soil conditioner and for brick–making. The practice is still alive today.|
|20th Century||In the 1930s, many people survive the Great Depression by peddling scraps of metal, rags and other items. Goods such as nylon, rubber and many metals are rationed and recycled during World War II.. Further in the 1940s ad 1950s, recycling becomes less important as landfilling becomes a cheap way to dispose trash. The 1960s see the rise of the environmental movement, which provoques public awareness and rises environmental consciousness. In the 1970s, a strong worldwide growth in support for energy conservation is triggered partly by the energy shortages and rising prices resulting from the emergence of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), thus recycling becomes more popular again and drop-off recycling centers are established. In the 1980s, major cities in the United States begin establishing curbside collection programs for plastics and other recyclables. In the 1990s, municipal recycling programs are established throughout the United States and Europe. Extended producer responsibility programs merge worldwide.|
|3300 BC–1200 BC||Bronze scrap recovery systems are developed in Europe during the European Bronze Age.||Europe|
|2000 BC||Composting/Recycling methods, as well as recycling bronze for later use, are developed in China.||China|
|1031||The first ever recorded reuse of waste paper begins in Japan. Documents and paper are recycled and re-pulped into new paper then sold in local Staples across the country.||Japan|
|1500s||Spanish copper mines use scrap iron for cementation of copper. This recycling practice survives to this day.|
|1690||The recycled paper manufacturing process is introduced when Rittenhouse Mill, Philadelphia starts manufacturing paper from waste paper and rags.||United States|
|1776||The first metal recycling is produced in the United States when patriots in New York City manage to melt down a statue of King George III and make into 42,088 bullets.||United States|
|1813||Technology||Benjamin Law develops the process of turning rags into "shoddy" and "mungo" wool, through a process of combining fibres with virgin wool.||United Kingdom|
|1865||Organization||The Salvation Army is founded in London, and begins collecting, sorting and recycling unwanted goods. The Household Salvage Brigades employ the unskilled poor to recover discarded materials. In the 1990s, the organization and its program would migrate to the United States.||United Kingdom|
|1884||An official recycling system for bottles with refundable deposits is established in Sweden.||Sweden|
|1897||Facility||A materials recovery facility is buit in New York City, where trash is sorted at “picking yards” and separated into various grades of paper, metals, and carpet. Burlap bags, twine, rubber and even horse hair are also sorted for recycling and reuse.||United States|
|1904||Facility||The first large–scale aluminum recyclers are operated in the metalworks of Chicago.||United States|
|1916–1918||Organization||Due to massive shortages of raw materials during World War I, the United States Federal government creates the Waste Reclamation Service with the motto “Don’t Waste Waste – Save It.”.||United States|
|1955 (1 August)||Publication||Life magazine offers a two-page article on “Throwaway Living”, selling to consumers the idea that single-use items are a necessity of the modern lifestyle. Ease and convenience would soon become the two most desirable qualities in product marketing, inevitably leading to parks, forests and highways becoming littered with garbage.||United States|
|1962||Publication||Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, warning that, when you throw something away, it doesn't really go away.||United States|
|1964||Product||The aluminum beverage can is introduced and quickly becomes an industry standard.|
|1965–1970||Symbol||American designer Gary Anderson introduces the symbol for Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, inspired in the Möbius strip.||United States|
|1968||The aluminum industry begins aluminum recycling.|
|1970 (April 22)||Earth Day is founded in the United States by Senator Gaylord Nelson and globally by entrepreneur John McConnell.|
|1971||Policy||The Oregon Bottle Bill is passed as a container-deposit legislation in Oregon, requiring cans, bottles, and other containers sold in Oregon to be returnable with a minimum refund value.||United States|
|1972||Facility||The first recycling mill is built in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.||United States|
|1974||Program||University City, Missouri starts offering curbside recycling to its residents.||United States|
|1974||Program||The first multi–material curbside recycling program is launched in Canada.||Canada|
|1977||Organization||Zero Waste Systems Inc. (ZWS) is founded in Oakland, California, bringing with its name the term zero waste.||United States|
|1981||Policy||Woodbury, New Jersey becomes the first city in the United States to mandate recycling.||United States|
|1983||Program||The blue box recycling system (BBRS) is launched in Canada, initially as a waste management system used by Canadian municipalities to collect source separating household waste materials for the purpose of recycling. The first full-scale community wide BBRS is implemented in the City of Kitchener, Ontario. Today, the blue box system and variations of it remain in place in hundreds of cities around the world.||Canada|
|1984||Statistics||Plastics recycling tops 100 million pounds in the United States for the first time in the history of plastics recycling.||United States|
|1985–1989||Program||Rose Rowan starts the first kerbside collection service for recyclables.|
|1986||Policy||Rhode Island becomes the first U.S. state to mandate recycling, including some plastic bottles and containers.||United States|
|1988||Statistics||The number of curbside recycling programs in the United States increases to about 1,050.||United States|
|1990||Policy||McDonald’s announces phasing out use of Styrofoam containers. The 20th-anniversary theme for Earth Day is recycling.||United States|
|1990||Program||The concept of Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is first formally introduced by Thomas Lindhqvist in a report to the Swedish Ministry of the Environment. EPR is defined as an environmental protection strategy that makes the manufacturer of the appliance responsible for its entire life cycle and especially for the “take-back”, recycling and final disposal of the product.||Sweden|
|1990||Coca-Cola begins blending recycled plastics into its beverage bottles.|
|1991–2011||Policy||More than 70 Extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws are enacted in the United States, generally requiring manufacturers to implement EPR programs, though without specifying recycling targets.||United States|
|1991||Policy||Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is adopted in Germany, after the German Packaging Ordinance is passed, extending to producers the responsibility for their products and packaging, beyond production and delivery through to the entire life cycle. Since the adoption, until 1998, the per capita consumption of packaging is reduced from 94.7 kg to 82 kg, resulting in a reduction of 13.4%.||Germany|
|1991||Organization||The Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd (SATCoL) is established, in order to create jobs and benefit the environment through recycling.|
|1992||Policy||The number of curbside programs in the United States reaches four thousand, up from just six hundred in 1989. With the rise of curbside recycling, industries abandon many of their buy–back programs and begin to rely largely on municipal services that require them to pay no extra fees.||United States|
|1995||Statistics||A record 47.6 billion soft drink containers are recycled in the United States, an increase of 500 million over the previous year. Aluminum cans are recycled at a rate of 63% in the country, with the highest state-wide rate in California at 80%.|
|1995||Organization||The Packaging Recovery Organisation Europe is founded as the umbrella organization of 31 national producer responsibility systems engaged in the selective collection and recycling of packaging waste.||United States|
|1996||Statistics||Recycling in the United States is rated at 25%, with the United States Environmental Protection Agency setting a new goal of 35%.||United States|
|1996||Technology||Norwegian companies Elopak and SINTEF team up to sell the first infra-red sorting machine.||Germany|
|1998||Policy||Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is adopted in Taiwan for electrical and electronic equipment, requiring producers to take back and recycle products such as televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, air–conditioners and computers, regardless of where they are sold.||Taiwan|
|1998||Policy||Extended producer responsibility programs (EPR) start being adopted in Switzerland.||Switzerland|
|1999||Policy||Extended producer responsibility programs start adoption in Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway.||Denmark, Netherlands, Norway|
|2000||Study||The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirms a link between global warming and waste, showing that reducing garbage and recycling cuts down greenhouse gas emissions.|
|2000||Organization||The European Recovered Paper Council (ERPC) is set up as an industry self-initiative with the purpose of monitoring progress towards meeting the paper recycling targets set out in the European Declaration on Paper Recycling, which is published the same year.|
|2001||Policy||The Home Appliance Recycling Law comes into force in Japan, thus making recycling of waste electrics a legal requirement under the Specific Household Appliance Recycling Law and the Law for Promotion of Effective Utilization Resources. Consumers are required to pay a combined fee for retailers to take back discarded air–conditioners, televisions, refrigerators and washing machines and for producers to recycle them.||Japan|
|2001||Policy||Extended producer responsibility programs start adoption in Belgium and Sweden.||Belgium, Sweden|
|2001||Policy||Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is adopted in Japan with three basic laws setting the legal structure, establishing the 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), also mandating recycling fees which include consumers.||Japan|
|2003||Policy||The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) is passed into European Law. It sets collection, recycling and recovery targets for all types of electrical goods.|
|2003||Policy||The California Electronic Waste Recycling Act is signed, establishing a new program for consumers to return, recycle, and ensure the safe and environmentally sound disposal of video display devices, such as televisions and computer monitors, that are hazardous wastes when discarded.||United States|
|2007||Policy||Five U.S. states pass laws requiring that unwanted electronics be recycled.||United States|
|2009||Publication||American professor Carl A. Zimring publishes Cash for your trash, one of the first specialized studies about scrap recycling in the United States.||United States|
|2012||Statistics||More than 585 million pounds of consumer electronics are recycled. This is an increase of 125 million pounds (more than 25%) over 2011.|
Meta information on the timeline
How the timeline was built
The initial version of the timeline was written by User:Sebastian.
Funding information for this timeline is available.
What the timeline is still missing
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