Timeline of waste management
This is a timeline of waste management, focusing mainly on municipal solid waste and commercial waste. Human waste and sewage are covered on the timeline of sanitation. Radioactive waste is not covered on this timeline. Recycling is covered on the timeline of recycling. Rise of common items in waste, such as beverage cans, plastics, and paper, are described.
The following are some interesting questions that can be answered by reading this timeline:
- What are some important policies of historic value released by authorities throughout history?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Policy".
- You will see early policies related to waste management, first involving solid waste and evolving later to include air pollution.
- You will also see different policies released by several countries across the world.
- What are some significant events related to the introduction of waste collection and management?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "System introduction".
- You will see the introduction of systems like kerbside collection, and other mostly municipal initiatives.
- What are some milestone techonolgies and notable device introductions and improvements in the waste management industry?
- What are some notable materials most contributing to the global production of waste?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Waste source emergence".
- You will see the emergence of several plastic products, as well as other highly wasted materials like packaging.
- What are some notable companies operating in the waste management industry?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Organization (for-profit)".
- What are some notable non-profit organizations concerning waste management?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Organization (non-profit)".
- You will see some important organizations, like the International Solid Waste Association.
- What are some notable events related to waste picking?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Waste picking".
- You will see statistics, organizations, publications, conferences and research on this practice, mainly in the developing world.
- What are some notable incidents involving waste disposal.
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Waste disposal incident".
- You will see some notable controversial events as well as some tragic events involving waste disposal.
- What are some significant numbers reflecting the importance of waste management industry and the weight of waste production?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Statistics".
- You will see numbers reflecting both the size of waste generation and management at national and global levels.
Summary by waste source
|Time period||Development summary|
|100 AD–onward||Large scale manufacturing of glass begins.|
|1551–onward||Paper packaging is introduced as a waste source.|
|1835–onward||Electronic devices are introduced. Adding electronic waste as a waste source.|
|1855–onward||Plastic is introduced as a waste source.|
|1957–onward||Space debris accumulate in Earth orbit since the first launch of an artificial satellite.|
Summary by century/era
|Time period||Development summary|
|Middle Ages||After the fall of Rome, waste collection and municipal sanitation begins a decline that would last throughout this era.|
|18th century||The First Industrial revolution starts in this century. During this period, products develop a linear lifecycle (raw materials are transformed them and then discarded).|
|19th century||The Second Industrial Revolution starts in this century. Petroleum refining begins, with emergence of its derivatives, including plastic. The first integrated kerbside collection and recycling system is introduced in 1884 in France. Industrialization along sustained urban growth in Western Europe causes a rapid deterioration in levels of sanitation and the general quality of urban life. Late in the century, a technological approach to solid-waste management begins to develop.|
|20th century||Municipal systems of waste disposal spring up at the turn of the century in large cities of Europe and North America. Technological advances continue during the first half of the century. Garbage grinders, compaction trucks, and pneumatic collection systems develop. The Third Industrial Revolution brings a shift from mechanical and analogue electronic technology to digital electronics, marking thus the beginning of the history of electronic waste disposal. Throughout this century, waste generation increases exponentially.|
|21s century||Waste management continues to be a global challenge in the 21st century. In order to reduce solid waste generation rates, nations are considering restrictions on packaging and controls on products. Waste increasingly becomes sorted for recycling and mandatory recycling targets are being implemented. Landfills are being redesigned. Liners, impervious caps, and liquid collection systems are being introduced, while gas and groundwater are being routinely monitored. In the developing world, a waste pickers movement consolidates.|
Summary by decade
|Time period||Development summary|
|1900s||The first synthetic plastic is introduced, marking the beginning of the global plastics industry.|
|1910s||Cities in the United States begin switching from horse–drawn to motorized waste collection equipment.|
|1920s||A dumping lever mechanism is introduced for garbage removal trucks. The garbage disposal unit is invented in the United States.|
|1930s||The Dumpster is introduced in the United States.|
|1940s||Disposal of packaging material increases by 67% after World War II as consumerism and obsolescence become entrenched in emerging developed countries.|
|1950s||Dempster develops as a refuse handling system. Rapid growth in global plastic production begins.|
|1960s||The first garbage bags meant for usage at homes appear during the decade. Also, the first automated vacuum collection system is created in Sweden.|
|1970s||Smaller dumpsters are introduced, often known as wheelie bins which are also emptied mechanically. The history of electronic waste disposal begins around this time.|
|1980s||In the United States, public attention turns to the dangers of improper disposal of “regulated medical waste”.|
|1990s||Garbage trucks technology changes dramatically. Societies start wasting food more than ever in the developed world.|
|2000s||A waste picker movement consolidates in the developing world, and the term "waste picker" emerges as a term to facilitate global communication.|
|Year||Type of waste||Event type||Details|
|3000 BC||Solid waste||A landfill is developed in Knossos, Crete, with large holes dug for refuse. Garbage is dumped and filled with dirt at various levels.||Greece|
|2100 BC||System introduction||The elite section in the city of Heraclopolis maintains a waste collection and disposal system.||Egypt|
|500 BC||Solid waste||Policy||A municipal dump is organized in Athens. Regulations require waste to be dumped at least a mile from the city limits.||Greece|
|100 AD||Glass waste||Waste source emergence||Glass cost rapidly declines. Large scale manufacturing, primarily in Alexandria, results in the establishment of glass as a commonly available material in the Roman world.||Roman Empire region|
|1350||Solid waste||Policy||Britain makes a law mandating clean front yards. However, the law is not taken too seriously.||United Kingdom|
|1357||Solid waste||Policy||The city authorities of London forbid throwing rubbish, earth, gravel or dung into the Thames.||United Kingdom|
|1407||Solid waste||Policy||Britain passes a law declaring waste should be stored inside till rakers to remove it.||United Kingdom|
|1551||Paper waste||Waste source emergence||German papermaker Andreas Bernhart begins placing his paper in wrappers labeled with his name and address. This is the first recorded use of packaging.||Germany|
|1714||Carrion, biological waste||Policy||Every city in England is required to have an official scavenger.||United Kingdom|
|1751||Municipal solid waste||System introduction||English official Corbyn Morris in London proposes a uniform public management for cleaning the city in order to preserve the health of the people.||United Kingdom|
|1757||Municipal solid waste||Service||The first municipal street–cleaning service in the United States is started in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin. During the same time period, American homes begin digging solid waste pits instead of throwing it out of doors and windows.||United States|
|1786||Municipal solid waste||Service||A proper waste collection service is first instigated in the Cape Colony.||South Africa|
|1835||Electronic waste||Waste source emergence||American scientist Joseph Henry invents the relay, which is considered the first electronic device ever invented.||United States|
|1842||General||Publication||British Social reformer, Edwin Chadwick publishes report The Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population in which he argues for the importance of adequate waste removal and management facilities to improve the health and wellbeing of the city's population.||United Kingdom|
|1848||Petroleum industry waste||Waste source emergence||The petroleum industry, both production and refining, begins with the first oil works in Scotland, when chemist James Young sets up a tiny business refining the crude oil. This marks the beginning of petroleum derivatives.||United Kingdom|
|1853||General||Organization (for-profit)||Veolia is founded in France. It operates water management, waste management and energy services.||France|
|1855||Plastic waste||Waste source emergence||The first human–made plastic is invented. A year layer, the plastic material is patented by Alexander Parkes, in Birmingham, England.||United Kingdom|
|1869||Plastic waste||Waste source emergence||American John Hyatt starts producing "celluloid", thus giving birth to the plastics industry.||United States|
|1874||General||Publication||Edwin Chadwick writes his Report of an Inquiry into the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain, linking disease to filthy environmental conditions.|
|1874||Solid waste||Facility||Waste-to-energy. The first incinerator is built in Nottingham by Manlove, Alliott & Co. Ltd. This would mark a significant development in solid-waste treatment and disposal practices in the country.||United Kingdom|
|1875||Municipal solid waste||System introduction||The first household rubbish bins are introduced in Britain to create a regulated system of collection.||United Kingdom|
|1870s||Chemical waste||Waste source emergence||Superphosphates are produced in Great Britain, and start being shipped around the world.||United Kingdom|
|1884||Municipal solid waste||System introduction||Eugène Poubelle introduces the first integrated kerbside collection and recycling system, requiring residents to separate their waste into perishable items, paper and cloth, and crockery and shells. Poubelle also establishes rules for how private collectors and city workers should cooperate and develops standard dimensions for refuse containers. His name in France is now synonymous with the garbage can.||France|
|1885||Solid waste||Facility||The first waste incinerator in the United States is built in Governors Island, New York.||United States|
|1895||Municipal solid waste||System introduction||New York City becomes the first U.S. city with public-sector garbage management.||United States|
|1896||Solid waste||Organization||Cory Environmental is founded in England. It provides services in the collection, recycling and disposal of waste.||United Kingdom|
|1897||Municipal solid waste||Technology||The Chiswick District Council from the Thornycroft Stea Wagon and Carriage Company orders some of the first self-propelled garbage trucks, described as a steam motor tip-car, a new design of body specific for "the collection of dust and house refuse".||United Kingdom|
|1898||General||Organization (non-profit)||The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management is founded. It is a professional body for the waste management industry in the United Kingdom and other countries.||United Kingdom|
|1907||Plastic waste||Waste source emergence||Bakelite is invented as the first synthetic plastic. This marks the beginning of the global plastics industry.|
|1912||General||Organization (for-profit)||British waste management company Biffa is founded.||United Kingdom|
|1916||General||Technology||Cities in the United States begin switching from horse–drawn to motorized waste collection equipment.||United States|
|1927||Solid waste||Technology||The garbage disposal unit is invented by John W. Hammes, an architect in Wisconsin.||United States|
|1920s||Municipal solid waste||Technology||A dumping lever mechanism is introduced for garbage removal trucks.||United Kingdom|
|1920s||General||Infrastructure||Using wetlands for disposal of waste becomes popular in the United States.||United States|
|1920s||Solid waste||Technology||Mechanical transport for solid waste management is introduced in South Africa.||South Africa|
|1930||Solid waste||Policy||The king of Patiala in India converts cars into garbage vehicles.||India|
|1934||General||Policy||The United States supreme court bans municipal waste dumping into oceans.||United States|
|1934||General||Organization (for-profit)||German Recycling and waste management company Remondis is founded.||Germany|
|1935||Scrap||Waste source emergence||The can of bear is first commercialized.||United States|
|1937||Solid waste||Technology||American businessman George Dempster invents the Dempster-Dumpster system in which wheeled waste containers are mechanically tipped into the truck. His containers become known as Dumpsters, entering the word to the language.||United States|
|1938||Solid waste||Technology||The Garwood Load Packer becomes the first truck to incorporate a hydraulic compactor. "In 1938, the Garwood Load Packer revolutionized the industry when the notion of including a compactor in the truck was implemented. The first primitive compactor could double a truck's capacity. This was made possible by use of a hydraulic press which compacted the contents of the truck periodically."|
|1938||Solid waste||Waste sorting||American phycisist Chester Carlson develops the Xerography process.||United States|
|1942||Solid waste||Waste source emergence||Low-density polyethylene is invented.|
|1944||Solid waste||Waste source emergence||Dow Chemical Company develops styrophoam.||United States|
|1949||Municipal solid waste||Statistics||Over 2500 Garwood Load Packers are in use across the United States and Canada.||United States, Canada|
|1950||Solid waste||Technology||Canadian inventor Harry Wasylyk from Winnipeg invents the first garbage bag.||Canada|
|1952||Solid waste||Technology||American body builder Vincen Bowles, develops and sells a fixed-bucket front loader. The device would be subsequently modified to service detachable containers.||United States|
|1953||General||Organization (non-profit)||Keep America Beautiful is formed in New York City with the purpose to bring public and private sectors together to develop and promote a national cleanliness ethic.||United States|
|1955||Solid waste||Technology||The Dempster Dumpmaster is introduced as the first front loader.|
|1956||Solid waste||Policy||The Clean Air Act is passed in Britain, replacing solid fuel for heating house by with gas and electricity.||United Kingdom|
|1956||General||Publication||The Journal of Environmental Engineering launches. Papers focus on engineering methods, impacts of wastewater collection and treatment; watershed contamination; environmental biology; nonpoint-source pollution on watersheds; air pollution and acid deposition; solid waste management.||United States|
|1957||Space debris||Waste source emergence||Space debris begin to accumulate in Earth orbit immediately with the first launch of an artificial satellite into orbit in 1957.|
|1957||Hazardous waste||Policy (international law)||The European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road i done at Geneva. The key article of the agreement, which say that apart from some excessively dangerous goods, other dangerous goods may be carried internationally in road vehicles subject to compliance with: (i) the conditions laid down in Annex A for the goods in question, in particular as regards their packaging and labelling; and (II) the conditions laid down in Annex B, in particular as regards the construction, equipment and operation of the vehicle carrying the goods in question.||Switzerland|
|1960||Solid waste||Organization (for-profit)||Waste management company Covanta Energy is founded.||United States|
|1960s||Municipal solid waste||Technology||The first patents for residential garbage compactors are filed in the United States.||United States|
|1960–1965||Solid waste||Waste source emergence||The modern lightweight shopping bag is invented by Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin. This simple, strong bag with a high load carrying capacity is patented in 1965 by Celloplast, a producer of cellulose film based in Norrkoping.||Sweden|
|1961||Solid waste||Organization (non-profit)||The Solid Waste Association of North America is founded. It is a professional association in the solid waste field with a "mission to advance the industry and professional practice from solid waste management to resource management through a shared emphasis on education, advocacy, and research".||United States|
|1961||Solid waste||Technology||The first vacuum waste system in the world is installed at Sollefteå Hospital in Sollefteå, Sweden.||Sweden|
|1962||General||Organization (non-profit)||The United States National Waste & Recycling Association is founded.||United States|
|1965||Solid waste||Technology||The first vacuum system for household waste is installed in the new residential district of Ör-Hallonbergen, Sweden.||Sweden|
|1966||Coal waste||Waste disposal incident||The Aberfan disaster occurs in Aberfan, Wales, when 300,000 cubic yards of coal sludge buries a primary school, and 19 houses. Hundreds of people try to dig the school children, teachers, and people who lived nearby, from out of the wreckage, but 144 people die.||United Kingdom|
|1968||General||Organization (for-profit)||American company Waste Management is founded.||United States|
|1968||Organization (for-profit)||American waste management company Browning-Ferris Industries is founded. It would go bankrupt in 1999.||United States|
|1969||Municipal solid waste||Technology||Garbage truck. The city of Scottsdale, Arizona introduces the world's first automated side loader. The new truck can collect 300 gallon containers in 30 second cycles, without the driver exiting the cab.||United States|
|1970||Solid waste||Organization (non-profit)||The International Solid Waste Association is founded. It is a global association, "working in the public interest and is the only worldwide association promoting sustainable, comprehensive and professional waste management".|
|1970||Solid waste||Organization (for-profit)||American company Waste Industries is founded. It provides non-hazardous solid waste and recycling collection, transfer, and disposal.||United States|
|1972||Conference||The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment is held in Stockholm, Sweden. Focused on international environmental issues, this event is considered to mark a turning point in waste management.||Sweden|
|1972||General||Policy||Ocean Dumping Act is passed by the United States Congress. The Act has two essential aims: to regulate intentional ocean disposal of materials, and to authorize any related research.||United States|
|1972 (February 15)||Marine debris||Policy||The Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft is signed in Oslo as an international agreement designed to control the dumping of harmful substances from ships and aircraft into the sea.||Norway|
|1972 (February 26)||Coal waste||Waste disposal incident||The Buffalo Creek Flood disaster occurs when a coal slurry impoundment dam, located on a hillside in Logan County, West Virginia, bursts and results in a flood unleashing approximately 500,000 cubic meters of black waste water upon the residents of sixteen coal towns along Buffalo Creek Hollow. Out of a population of 5,000 people, 125 are killed, 1,121 are injured, and over 4,000 are left homeless. Five hundred and seven houses were destroyed, in addition to forty-four mobile homes and 30 businesses.||United States|
|1973||General||Research (discipline)||Garbology, the study of modern refuse and trash as well as the use of trash cans, compactors and various types of trash can liners, is started as an academic discipline at the University of Arizona, originating from an idea of two students for a class project.||United States|
|1973||Solid waste||Illegal dumping||A 7-million-tire fire in Virginia burns in an unregulated tire dump for almost 9 months, polluting nearby water sources.||United States|
|1975||General||Policy||The Waste Framework Directive is adopted by the European Union with the purpose to lay the basis to turn the EU into a recycling society. The Waste Framework Directive introduces for the first time the elements of the waste hierarchy concept into European waste policy. The waste hierarchy concept is introduced for the first time as a waste policy by the WFD, emphasizing the importance of waste minimization, and the protection of the environment and human health, as a priority. Following the this Directive, the European Union policy and legislation would further adapt to the principles of the waste hierarchy.||European Union|
|1975||General||Organization (for-profit)||Australian waste management company Cleanaway is founded.||Australia|
|1975||Solid waste||Organization (for-profit)||American waste management company Casella Waste Systems is founded.||United States|
|1976||Hazardous waste||Policy||The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act is enacted in the United States to close open dumps, create standards for landfills, incinerators and the disposal of hazardous waste. It is the principal federal law in the country governing the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste.||United States|
|1976||General||Organization (for profit)||Canadian waste-to-energy technology and engineering services company Himark BioGas is founded.||Canada|
|1977||General||Organization (non-profit)||American environmental advocacy organization Californians Against Waste is founded.||United States|
|1979||Biological waste||Publication||Bioresource Technology launches as a scientific journal. It covers all areas concerning biomass, biological waste treatment, bioenergy, biotransformations and bioresource systems analysis, and technologies associated with conversion or production.|
|1980||Hazardous waste||Organization (for-profit)||Clean Harbors is founded in the United States. It provides hazardous waste disposal for companies.||United States|
|1981||Solid waste||Waste picking||In Port Said, Egypt, a 1981 study shows an infant mortality rate of 1/3 among waste pickers (one out of three babies dies before reaching age one).||Egypt|
|1982||General||Organization (for-profit)||Waste Management inc becomes the world’s largest waste disposal company, with more than US$1 billion in sales.||United States|
|1983||Electronic waste||Waste disposal incident||The Atari video game burial is undertaken as a mass burial of unsold video game cartridges, consoles, and computers in a New Mexico landfill site.||United States|
|1983||General||Publication||Waste Management & Research launches as a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering the field of waste management.||United States|
|1986–1988||Ash from waste incinerators||Waste disposal incident||The Khian Sea waste disposal incident occurs. The cargo ship Khian Sea leaves Philadelphia with 14,855 tons of ash in its hold. The company handling the waste subcontracted shipment to a company intended to dump the ash in the Bahamas. However, the Bahamian government turns the ship away, and Philadelphia withholds payment to the companies because the waste was not disposed of.. The ship would be labeled a pariah by environmental groups and over the next two years would be spurned by at least 11 countries on four continents. Late in 1987, armed with a signed contract for the ash to be used as fertilizer, the crew manages to offload an estimated 4,000 tons of the ash on a dockside beach in Haiti, but is forced to leave with its remaining cargo after public protests. Finally, in November 1988, the ship arrives in Singapore, without its ash. Along the way, the ship has been sold, twice renamed and twice turned away from ports at gunpoint. The crew was nearly mutinied, and the engineer, who threatened to sink the vessel, was thrown in jail in Yugoslavia.|
|1987||General||Organization (for-profit)||Eltex Recycling is founded in Romania. It operates intergrated waste management, among other specialties.||Romania|
|1987–1988||Biomedical waste||Waste disposal incident||The Syringe Tide environmental disaster ossurs in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York where significant amounts of medical waste, including hypodermic syringes, and raw garbage washes up onto beaches on the Jersey Shore, in New York City, and on Long Island. This forces the closing of beaches on the Atlantic coast.||United States|
|1988||Solid waste||Organization (for-profit)||Allied Waste Industries is founded. Its major business is waste collection and recycling.||United States|
|1988||Solid waste||Waste picking (statistics)||The World Bank estimates that 1–2% of the global population subsists by waste picking.||Worldwide|
|1988||Sewage sludge||Policy||United States President Ronald Regan signs the law that prohibits ocean dumping as a means of disposal of sewage sludge.||United States|
|1988||Biomedical waste||Policy||The United States federal government passes The Medical Waste Tracking Act which allows the Environmental Protection Agency to establish rules for management of medical waste in some parts of the country.||United States|
|1989 (March 22)||Hazardous waste||Policy||The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal is adopted to stop movement of hazardous waste from one country to other country. 105 states sign the Final Act of the convention. ||Switzerland|
|1989||General||Organization (non-profit)||Non-profit Australian environmental conservation organization Clean Up Australia is founded.||Australia|
|1989||Hazardous waste||Policy (international law)||The Convention on Civil Liability for Damage Caused during Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road, Rail, and Inland Navigation Vessels (CRTD) is signed in Geneva.||Switzerland|
|1990||Municipal solid waste||Statistics||Global municipal solid waste touches 1.3 billion metric tons.|
|1990||Solid waste||Organization (for-profit)||South African waste management company SA Waste Holdings is founded.||South Africa|
|1990||Solid waste||Waste picking||A study in Mexico City finds the average lifespan of a dumpsite waste collector to be 39 years, compared to the national average of 69 years.||Mexico|
|1990||Biological waste||Statistics||The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that occupational exposures to bloodborne pathogens cause more than 200 deaths and 9,000 bloodborne infections every year.||United States|
|1990||Solid waste||Publication||Biodegradation launches as a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering biotransformation, mineralization, detoxification, recycling, amelioration or treatment of chemicals or waste materials by naturally occurring microbial strains, microbial associations or recombinant organisms.|
|1991||Biological waste||Policy||The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration publishes the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, with the purpose to protect workers by limiting occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials.||United States|
|1991||Electronic waste||Program launch||The first electronic waste recycling system in Switzerland is implemented, beginning with collection of old refrigerators. Over the years, all other electric and electronic devices would be gradually added to the system.||Switzerland|
|1991||Hazardous waste||Policy (international law)||Multiple developing nations in Africa meet to discuss their dissatisfaction with the Basel Convention in regulating the dumping of hazardous waste into their countries, and design a ban on the import of hazardous wastes into their countries called Bamako Convention. The Bamako Convention is different from the Basel Convention in that Bamako “essentially bans the import of all hazardous waste generated outside of the Organization of African Unity for disposal or recycling and deems any import from a non-Party to be an illegal act.||Mali|
|1991||Packaging waste||Policy||The German government passes a packaging law (Verpackungsverordnung) that requires manufacturers to take care of the recycling or disposal of any packaging material they sell.||Germany|
|1991||Wastewater||Policy||The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive is adopted by the European Union directive concerning urban waste water "collection, treatment and discharge of urban waste water and the treatment and discharge of waste water from certain industrial sectors". It aims "to protect the environment from adverse effects of waste water discharges from cities and "certain industrial sectors".||European Union|
|1991||Electronic waste||Policy||The European Union adopts the Directive 91/157/EEC which is intended to reduce environmental hazards related to batteries containing dangerous substances by harmonizing Member States' laws on the disposal and recycling of these types of batteries.||European Union|
|1992 (May 5)||General||Policy||The Basel Convention enters into force. Many countries pass legislations enlisting waste that cannot be imported into their territory.|
|1993||Organization (for-profit)||British waste management and recycling company Environmental Waste Controls is founded.||United Kingdom|
|1995||Organization (for-profit)||Gient is founded in China. It is a global supplier of medical waste autoclave systems.||China|
|1996||Solid waste||Organization (for-profit)||Bangladeshi waste management and recycling company Waste Concern is founded.||Bangladesh|
|1996||Solid waste||Organization (non-profit)||Basel Action Network is founded. Named after the Basel Convention, it is a charitable non-governmental organization working to combat the export of toxic waste from technology and other products from industrialized societies to developing countries.||United States|
|1996||Solid waste||Policy||A Landfill Tax is introduced in the United Kingdom as the first environmental tax. The tax is seen as a key mechanism in enabling the country to meet its targets set out in the Landfill Directive for the landfilling of biodegradable waste. Through increasing the cost of landfill, other advanced waste treatment technologies with higher gate fees are made to become more financially attractive.||United Kingdom|
|1997||Municipal solid waste||Technology||Lee Rathbun introduces the Lightning Rear Steer System, which includes an elevated, rear-facing cab for both driving the truck and operating the loader. This configuration allows the operator to follow behind haul trucks and load continuously.|
|1997||Organization (for-profit)||American integrated waste services company Waste Connections is founded.||United States|
|1997||Solid waste||Policy||The Netherlands introduces a new regulation banning some recyclable and combustible wastes from being brought to landfill sites.||Netherlands|
|1998||Hazardous waste||Policy (international law)||Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is signed in Rotterdam as a multilateral treaty to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals.||Netherlands|
|1998||Biomedical waste||Concept development||The Ministry of Environment and Forest in India defines biomedical waste as, “Any waste generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals or in research activities used in production or testing of biologicals.”||India|
|1998||Solid waste||Organization (for-profit)||American waste management company Republic Services is founded. It provides non-hazardous solid waste collection, transfer, disposal, recycling, and energy services in the United States.||United States|
|1999||General||Policy||Cambodia introduces its Sub Decree on Solid Waste Management, which defines solid waste, household waste and hazardous waste.||Cambodia|
|2000||Municipal solid waste||Statistics||Over 5,000 cities in the United States use Pay as you throw programs, which charge residents based on amounts of garbage they throw away.||United States|
|2000||Hazardous waste||Policy (international law)||The European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterways (AND) is done at Geneva, with aims at: (I) ensuring a high level of safety of international carriage of dangerous goods by inland waterways; (II) contributing effectively to the protection of the environment by preventing any pollution resulting from accidents or incidents during such carriage; and (III) facilitating transport operations and promoting international trade in dangerous goods.||Switzerland|
|2000||Solid waste||Policy||The Waste Incineration Directive is issued by the European Union. It aims to minimize the impact of negative environmental effects on the environment and human health resulting from emissions to air, soil, surface and ground water from the incineration and co-incineration of waste.||European Union|
|2000||General||Research||The United States Environmental Protection Agency confirms a link between global warming and waste, showing that reducing garbage and recycling cuts down greenhouse gas emissions.||United Sattes|
|2000||General||Policy||The Waste-Management Law is promulgated in Japan, requiring 3R components (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) measured in 10 industries and 69 product items, covering about 50% of the waste generated in the country.||Japan|
|2000||General||Policy||Philippines introduces its “Ecological Solid Waste Management, Act 2000”, which regulates and defines solid waste, municipal waste, hazardous waste, agriculture waste, bulky wastes, special wastes and yard waste.||Philippines|
|2000||General||Organization (non-profit)||The Waste & Resources Action Programme launches as a British charity. It works with businesses, individuals and communities to achieve a circular economy.||United Kingdom|
|2000||Solid waste||Organization (for-profit)||American solid waste collection company Advanced Disposal Services is founded.||United States|
|2000||Sharps waste||Policy||The United States Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, which regulates occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, including HIV, the hepatitis B virus, and the hepatitis C virus, is signed into law.||United States|
|2001||Solid waste||Policy||The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act is enacted by the Government of the Philippines, after collapse of dumpsite during the Payatas landslide resulted in over 200 deaths in 2000.||Philippines|
|2001||General||Organization (for profit)||Canadian waste management company Waste Services Inc. is founded.||Canada|
|2001||General||Policy||The Landfill Directive is implemented by the European Union, with aim "to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment, in particular the pollution of surface water, groundwater, soil and air, and on the global environment, including the greenhouse effect, as well as any resulting risk to human health, from the landfilling of waste, during the whole life-cycle of the landfill".||European Union|
|2002||Solid waste||Statistics||Total global solid waste touches nearly 12 billion tons, out of which 11 billion tons are from industrial wastes and 1.6 billion tons are municipal solid wastes.|
|2002||General||Policy||Singapore introduces its Environmental Public Health Act, which regulates waste management.||Singapore|
|2002||General||Organization (non-profit)||The International Waste Working Group – IWWG is established "to serve as a forum for the scientific and professional community and to respond to a need for the international promotion and dissemination of new developments in the waste management industry."|
|2003||Electronic waste||Policy||Under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive, 2002/96/EC), the European Union implements a system symilar to the electronic waste recycling system implemented in 1991 in Switzerland. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive is put in effect as a European Community Directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Its principal purposes are to prevent WEEE generation and, in addition, to improve the reuse, recycling, and recovery, in place of disposal, to reduce the environmental and health impacts of WEEE.||European Union|
|2003||Electronic waste||Policy||The California Electronic Waste Recycling Act is introduced with the purpose to establish a funding system for the collection and recycling of certain electronic wastes in California.||United States|
|2003||Electronic waste||Policy||The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive is adopted by the European Union. It restricts the use of six hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment in the union.||European Union|
|2003||Solid waste||Waste picking||The Cartonera movement begins as a social, political and artistic publishing movement in Argentina. It would later spread to countries throughout Latin America, Europe and Africa. Cartoneros are known to be people who make their living collecting and selling salvaged materials to recycling plants.||Argentina|
|2004||Food waste||Research||Study conducted at the University of Arizona indicates that 14 to 15% of United States edible food is untouched or unopened, amounting to US$43 billion worth of discarded, but edible, food.||United States|
|2004||Solid waste||Technology||New mechanical biological treatment technologies begin to utilize wet materials recovery facilities. These combine a dirty MRF with water, which acts to densify, separate and clean the output streams. It also hydrocrushes and dissolves biodegradable organics in solution to make them suitable for anaerobic digestion.|
|2005||Hazardous waste||Policy||England and Wales introduce the Hazardous Waste Regulations, which set out the regime for the control and tracking of hazardous waste in those countries.||United Kingdom|
|2005||Solid waste||Waste picking||Brazil hosts the first meeting of the Latin American Waste Picker Network (LAWPN), an organization that now represents waste pickers movements from several countries in Latin America. LAWPN facilitates exchanges of knowledge, technology, and strategies between member organizations through regional conventions, country-to-country delegations, telecommunications, and strategic reports.||Brazil|
|2006||Electronic waste||Statistics||Electronic waste makes up 5% of the total solid waste stream.|
|2006||Toxic waste||Waste disposal incident||The 2006 Ivory Coast toxic waste dump occurs as a health crisis in Ivory Coast in which a ship registered in Panama, chartered by the Singaporean-based oil and commodity shipping company Trafigura Beheer BV offloads toxic waste to an Ivorian waste handling company which disposes of it at the port of Abidjan. The local contractor, a company called Tommy, dumps at least 540,000 liters of toxic waste at 12 sites in and around Abidjan in August. The dumping allegedly leads to the death of 7 and 20 hospitalized and the other 26000 people are treated for symptoms of poisoning.||Côte d'Ivoire|
|2007||Solid waste||Policy||The Solid Waste Management (SWM) and Public Cleansing Act is enacted by the Government of Malaysia in order to federalize SWM and progress the nation to status of a developed country by 2020.||Malaysia|
|2007||Food waste||Campaign||Love Food, Hate Waste launches. It is the first major campaign to tackle food waste.||United Kingdom|
|2007||Solid waste||Policy||San Francisco becomes the first city in the United States to prohibit the distribution of plastic bags by grocery stores.||United States|
|2007||Solid waste||Waste picking (literature)||Martin Medina publishes The World's Scavengers, which provides a methodological guide to researching waste picking.|
|2008||Solid waste||Waste sorting||French company Pellenc ST develops MIR (mid infrared) waste sorting technology, as a more efficient way to separate paper and cardboard.||France|
|2008||Solid waste||Waste picking (international conference)||In March, delegates from 30 countries gather in Bogotá, Colombia, for the first World Conference (and Third Latin American Conference) of Waste Pickers (WIEGO 2008). One of the key issues discussed is the global trend of privatization and concentration of waste management systems.||Colombia|
|2008||Solid waste||Statistics||389 million tons of municipal solid waste are generated in the United States during the year.||United States|
|2008||General||Policy||The Waste Minimisation Act 2008 is passed in New Zealand. It encourages a reduction in the amount of waste consumers generate and dispose of in New Zealand and aims to lessen the environmental harm of waste.||New Zealand|
|2008||General||Organization (for-profit)||Suez Environnement is established. It is a French-based utility company which operates largely in the water and waste management sectors.||France|
|2008||Solid waste||Waste picking (Concept development)||Participants of the First World Conference of Waste Pickers choose to use the term "waste picker" for English usage to facilitate global communication.|
|2008||Solid waste||Technology||The first remote-control Sandbonis (sand cleaning machines) are introduced at the 2008 Summer Olympics.||China|
|2008||Food waste||Organization (non-profit)||Stop Wasting Food (In Danish Stop Spild af Mad) is founded by Russo-Danish activist Selina Juul as a consumer organization that works for the reduction of food waste in society.  Due to this movement, Denmark would achieve a national reduction in food waste by 25% in 5 years (2010–2015).||Denmark|
|2009||Food waste||Statistics||Study estimates that from 20% to 40% of fruit and vegetables in the United Kingdom are rejected before they even reach retailers, as a result of high cosmetic standards.||United Kingdom|
|2009||General||Policy||A broad waste management act is introduced in South Africa, empowering the environment minister to require EPR measures on a product–by–product basis.||South Africa|
|2009||Plastic waste||Organization (non-profit)||Clean Oceans International is incorporated. It seeks to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans through a comprehensive global approach that includes research, technical innovation, public awareness, and efficient plastic waste management.||United States|
|2009||Solid waste||Waste picking (organization)||The Global Network of Waste Pickers is founded.|
|2009||Solid waste||Organization (non-profit)||Online free group Freegle launches with aims to increase reuse and reduce landfill by offering a free Internet-based service where people can give away and ask for things that would otherwise be thrown away.||United Kingdom|
|2010||Biodegradable waste||Program launch||Miniwaste launches as an European project with the purpose to reduce the amount of organic waste from households in a manageable and sustainable way.|
|2010||Plastic waste||Statistics||Coastal plastic waste generated within 50 kilometers of the coastline amounts to 99.5 million tons.||Worldwide|
|2010||Solid waste||Waste picking (statistics)||According to a UN Habitat report, Waste pickers provide between 50 and 100% of waste collecting services in most cities of the developing world.||Developing world|
|2010||Solid waste||Waste picking (statistics)||A study estimates that there are 1.5 million waste pickers in India alone at this time.||India|
|2010||Caustic waste||Waste disposal incident||The Ajka alumina plant accident occurs at a caustic waste reservoir in Hungary, when the northwestern corner of the dam of a reservoir collapses, freeing approximately one million cubic meters of liquid waste from red mud lakes. The mud floods several nearby localities. Ten people die, and 150 people are injured.||Hungary|
|2010–2012||Biowaste||Program launch||Miniwaste launches as a European project operated from January 2010 to December 2012, designed to "bring bio-waste back to life". The project endeavors to demonstrate that it is possible to significantly reduce the amount of organic waste at the source in a sustainable way, and to monitor actions for waste reduction in an efficient manner.||Europe|
|2011||Solid waste||Technology||A RESEM pyrolysis plant becomes operational in Texas, processing up to 60 tons per day.||United States|
|2011||Food waste||Research||Study estimates the total of global food loss and waste to around one third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption, amounting to about 1.3 billion tons per year.|
|2011||Solid waste||Policy||The government of Zanzibar prohibits the use of plastic bags.||Tanzania|
|2012||General||Program launch||The European Week for Waste Reduction launches as a 3-year project supported by the LIFE+ Programme of the European Commission. It is an initiative aiming to promote the implementation of awareness-raising actions about sustainable resource and waste management during a single week.|
|2012||Biomedical waste||Statistics||Up to US$2.5 billion are spent in the United States for the proper disposal of medical waste.||United States|
|2012||General||Organization (for-profit)||Envirogreen Recycling is founded in Northern Ireland. It operates in the waste management industry.||United Kingdom|
|2012||Plastic waste||Global waste trade||China receives nearly half of all the plastic waste that the United States send abroad for recycling and about one-third of the European Union’s plastic waste exports in the year.||China|
|2013||Solid waste||Publication||Global initiative D-Waste publishes the first Waste Atlas Report. Through this report the concept of the Waste Atlas and its main features are presented to the public. An interactive waste management map , Waste Atlas visualizes global solid waste management data for comparison and benchmarking purposes.|
|2013||Hazardous waste||Policy (international law)||The Minamata Convention on Mercury is signed in Minamata, Japan.||Japan|
|2013||Biodegradable waste||Organization (non-profit)||The Composting Association is founded as a trade organization for the biodegradable waste management industry in the United Kingdom.||United Kingdom|
|2014||Plastic waste||Global waste trade||According to study, China receives 56 percent by weight of global scrap plastic exports.||China|
|2014||Textile waste||Statistics||In the United States, an average person throws away approximately 80 pounds of used clothing per person per year. On average it costs cities US$45 per ton to dispose of old clothing.||United States|
|2014||Food waste||Statistics||A National Geographic study indicates that more than 30% of the food in the United States, valued at $162 billion annually, isn't eaten.||United States|
|2014||Demolition waste||Statistics||505.1 million tons of demolition debris is generated in the United States in this year. Out of the 505.1 million tons, the debris is composed of 353.6 million tons of concrete, 76.6 million tons of asphalt concrete, 35.8 million tons of wood product, 12.7 million tons of asphalt shingles, 11.8 million tons of brick and clay tile, 10.3 million tons of drywall and plaster, and 4.3 million tons of steel.||United States|
|2014||Plastic waste||Statistics||The plastic global production reaches 300 million tons. 40% by weight of world production takes place in Asia. North America and Europe cover each 20%.|
|2014||General||Illegal dumping||The Italian government starts funding health screenings to track the rise in illnesses in Campania. Studies conducted using the data collected from these screenings find elevated instances of leukemia, lymphoma, and colorectal and liver cancer mortality in one of Campania's districts. The study attributes this increase in cancer and cancer mortality with toxic exposures from the illegal waste.||Italy|
|2015||Plastic waste||Policy||The first state-wide ban on plastic bags in grocery and convenience stores is enacted in California.||United States|
|2015||Plastic waste||Statistics||An estimated 55 percent of global plastic waste is discarded in the year, 25 percent is incinerated, and 20 percent is recycled.|
|2015||Food waste||Service launch||Olio launches as a mobile app for food-sharing, aiming to reduce food waste.||United Kingdom|
|2016||General||Program launch||The Government of India launches a web application to track the status of various kinds of wastes generated in the country.||India|
|2016||Plastic waste||Research||Japanese scientists discover a species of bacteria called ideonella sakainesis that eats plastics commonly found in water bottles by an enzyme that turns the Polyethylene terephthalate to generate an intermediate chemical which is taken up by the cell, then broken down even further giving the bacteria carbon and energy to grow.||Japan|
|2016||Electronic waste||Statistics||Yearly worldwide accumulation of e-waste reaches 49.3 million tons.|
|2016||General||Statistics||The global annual waste generation is estimated to be 2.01 billion tons in this year.||Worldwide|
|2017||Electronic waste||Research||Research team at Stanford University develops a flexible and biodegradable semiconductor that could help drastically decrease electronic waste in the future.||United states|
|2017||Municipal solid waste||Statistics||The total generation of municipal solid waste in the year was 267.8 million tons in the United States. Of this amount, approximately 67 million tons were recycled and 27 million tons were composted, resulting in a 35.2 percent recycling and composting rate. In addition, more than 34 million tons of MSW (12.7 percent) were combusted with energy recovery and more than 139 million tons of MSW (52.1 percent) were landfilled.||United States|
|2017||Electronic waste||Statistics||Almost 50 million tons of electronic waste are thrown out, a 20% increase from 2015.|
|2018||Solid waste||Facility||A waste-to-energy plant is built in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is Africa’s first energy plant that converts trash into electricity.||Ethiopia|
|2018||General||Policy||The Chinese National Sword comes into effect in February to ban imports of 24 types of waste material and set a tougher standard for contamination levels in others. Many scrap materials are banned and others are not accepted unless they meet an extremely strict contamination rate of 0.5 percent. This policy would be regarded by many as a “catastrophe” that will have a “devastating impact” on global recycling.||China|
|2018||General||Program launch||The World Economic Forum, World Resources Institute, Philips, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, United Nations Environment Programme, and over 40 other partners launch the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE). The circular economy is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources.|
|2019||Plastic waste||Research||A research group led by scientists of Washington State University finds a way to turn plastic waste products into jet fuel.||United States|
|2019||Plastic waste||Policy||California introduces legislation proposing a phase out of single-use plastic products by 2030.||United States|
|2020||Electronic waste||Statistics||The amount of worldwide e-waste generation is expected to exceed 50 million tons by this year, with an annual growth between 4% and 5%.|
|2021||Electronic waste||Statistics||The United Nations University predicts that yearly worldwide accumulation of e-waste would reach 57.5 million tons by this year.||Worldwide|
|2025||General||Statistics||The global waste management market size is expected to reach US$484.9 billion from US$303.6 billion in 2017, rising at a CAGR of 6.0% from 2018 to 2025.|
Meta information on the timeline
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- Timeline of recycling
- Timeline of water treatment
- Timeline of sanitation
- Timeline of hygiene
- Timeline of pollution
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