Timeline of recycling
This is a timeline of recycling, attempting to describe significant events in the history of this industry.
The following are some interesting questions that can be answered by reading this timeline:
- How did recycling for every material evolve throughout time and what types of recycling industries are there?
- Sort the full timeline by "Category".
- You will mostly see a categorization discriminating recycling by material or type of recycling.
- For events related to all materials in general, look for rows with value "General".
- What are some milestone recycling practice introductions?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Industry". This type of event aims to describe the introduction of the practice rather than the introduction of a recycling system.
- What are some notable recycling systems introduced throughout history?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "System introduction".
- You will see a variety of systems ranging from ancient methods like bronze scrap recovery systems, old methods like some of paper recycling, to contemporary systems using modern machinery for industries like electronic and curbside recycling.
- What are some notable introduced governmental policies concerning recycling?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Policy".
- You will see some important regulations, like the influential Operation National Sword in China.
- What are some notable non-profit organizations advocating and operating in the recycling industry?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Organization (non-profit)".
- You will see large global organizations like Bureau of International Recycling, as well as other smaller non-profits.
- What are some notable companies operating in the recycling industry?
- What are some notable numbers illustrating the size of the recycling industry around the world?
- Sort the full timeline by "Event type" and look for the group of rows with value "Statistics".
|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. "Single-stream recycling popped up in several California communities in the 1990s as a low-barrier entry into recycling."|
The image below shows the evolution of recycling as a percentage of waste generation in the United States.
|Year||Category||Type of event||Event||Geographical location|
|3300 BC–1200 BC||Metal recycling||System introduction||Bronze scrap recovery systems are developed in Europe during the European Bronze Age.||Europe|
|2000 BC||Metal recycling||System introduction||Composting/Recycling methods, as well as recycling bronze for later use, are developed in China.||China|
|400 BC||Glass recycling||Industry||Recycling may start as early as this time, when some civilizations take glass from conquered villages and reuse the glass in their own settlements. Recycling materials, such as glass, becomes necessary for survival, especially in times of disease, war, or famine.|
|105 AC||Textile recycling||System introduction||Han dynasty. During this period the Chinese Minister for Agriculture Tsai Lun invents the idea of making paper from old linen rags.||China|
|1031||Paper recycling||Industry||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||Metal recycling||Industry||Spanish copper mines use scrap iron for cementation of copper. This recycling practice survives to this day.|
|1690||Paper/cardboard recycling||System introduction||The recycled paper manufacturing process is introduced when Rittenhouse Mill, Philadelphia starts manufacturing paper from waste paper and rags.||United States|
|1774||Paper recycling||System introduction||A process for removing printing inks from recycled paper (deinking) is invented by German jurist Justus Claproth.||Germany|
|1776||Metal recycling||Industry||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|
|1800||Paper recycling||System introduction||English papermaker Matthias Koops is granted the first patent for paper recycling. His patent application involves extracting ink from printed and written paper and converting the paper into pulp to make new paper. This process would be later adopted by paper mills worldwide.||United Kingdom|
|1813||Textile recycling||System introduction||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||General||Organization (non-profit)||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|
|1874||Paper/cardboard recycling||Industry||The first municipal paper recycling in the United States starts in Baltimore, Maryland. A second one opens in New York City in the same year.||United States|
|1884||Glass recycling||System introduction||Container-deposit legislation. An official recycling system for bottles with refundable deposits is established in Sweden.||Sweden|
|1896||General||Facility launch||An early major recycling center is started by the Benedetto family in New York City, where they collect rags, newspaper, and trash with a pushcart.||United States|
|1897||General||Facility launch||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||Aluminium recycling||Facility launch||The first large–scale aluminum recyclers are operated in the metalworks of Chicago.||United States|
|1907||Plastic recycling||Background||The first synthetic plastic Bakelite, is produced. This marks the beginning of the global plastics industry.|
|1916–1918||General||Organization (government agency)||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|
|1926||Sewage sludge recycling||Product||Milorganite is introduced as a brand of biosolids fertilizer produced by treating sewage sludge.||United States|
|1934||General||Organization (for-profit)||German Recycling and waste management company Remondis is founded.||Germany|
|1939–1945||General||Crisis-motivated recycling||Recycling and reusing materials become vital during The Great Depression and World War II, since resources and materials are limited and people can no longer afford to purchase new materials. Recycling and reusing become a symbol of the war, and a way for American’s back home to do their part to help the war effort.|
|1939–1945||Paper/cardboard recycling||Crisis-motivated recycling||Paper recycling efforts resurface during World War II when, due to a major shortage of paper pulp, people are asked to save used paper and rags to make new paper.|
|1940||Scrap recycling||Crisis-motivated recycling||Nylon, elastic, used batteries and various scrap metals are recycled in Europe and the United States to benefit the war effort.||Europe, United States|
|1948||General||Organization (non-profit)||The Bureau of International Recycling is formed. Headquartered in Brussels, it is considered to be the first federation to support the interests of the recycling industry on an international scale.||Belgium|
|1948||Timber recycling||Notable product||A 100 meters tall tower of Golm transmitter near Potsdam, Germany is built from recycled timber from old radio towers. The tower would remain intact for 31 years.||Germany|
|1955 (1 August)||General||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|
|1960||Paper/cardboard recycling||Statistics||Recycling of paper and paperboard products in the United States is estimated at around 5 million tons.||United States|
|1962||General||Literature||Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, warning that, when you throw something away, it doesn't really go away.||United States|
|1962||General||Organization (non-profit)||The United States National Waste & Recycling Association is founded.||United States|
|1964||Metal recycling||Product||The aluminum beverage can is introduced and quickly becomes an industry standard.|
|1965–1970||General||Symbol introduction||American designer Gary Anderson introduces the symbol for Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, inspired in the Möbius strip.||United States|
|1968||Aluminium recycling||System introduction||The aluminum industry begins aluminum recycling.|
|1970 (April 22)||General||Annual event||Earth Day is founded in the United States by Senator Gaylord Nelson and globally by entrepreneur John McConnell.|
|1970||Metal recycling||Crisis-motivated recycling||"Ban The Can" is conceived and executed by Ruth "Pat" Webb as the first post-World War II mass recycling program in the United States in Honolulu, Hawaii. Webb organizes military and civilian volunteers to collect over 9 tons (8,200 kg) of metal cans from the roadways and highways of Oahu. The metal cans are later recycled into steel reinforcement bars to be used in local construction projects.||United States|
|1971||Metal recycling, Glass recycling||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||General||Facility launch||The first recycling mill is built in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.||United States|
|1973||Plastic recycling||Facility launch||An early recycling center for plastic materials is created in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.||United States|
|1974||Waste recycling||Program launch||University City, Missouri starts offering curbside recycling to its residents.||United States|
|1974||Waste recycling||Program launch||The first multi–material curbside recycling program is launched in Canada.||Canada|
|1970s||Timber recycling||Industry||Industry pioneers on the East Coast of the United States begin selling of recycled lumber.||United States|
|1980||Fluorescent lamp recycling||System introduction||The first commercial lamp crusher in the world is introduced.||United Kingdom|
|1981||General||Policy||Woodbury, New Jersey becomes the first city in the United States to mandate recycling.||United States|
|1983||Curbside recycling||System introduction||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|
|1983||Automotive oil recycling||Policy||The Used Automotive Oil Recycling Ac is passed in Washington State, requiring sellers of 100 gallons or more oil per year to post signs on used oil recycling and to identify the nearest oil collection center.||United States|
|1984||Plastic recycling||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||Curbside recycling||Program launch||Rose Rowan starts the first kerbside collection service for recyclables.|
|1986||General||Policy||Rhode Island becomes the first U.S. state to mandate recycling, including some plastic bottles and containers.||United States|
|1986||Drug recycling||Program launch||The Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP) is established by both the United States Department of Defense and the Food and Drug Administration as a federal program aiming to save government resources by extending the shelf-life of medications in military stockpiles.||United States|
|1987||Scrap recycling||Organization (non-profit)||United States-based private, non-profit trade association Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries is founded.||United States|
|1987||Packaging recycling||Organization (for-profit)||Eltex Recycling is founded in Romania. It operates packaging waste recycling, among other specialties.||Romania|
|1988||Plastic recycling||recycling code introduction||The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) introduces a recycling code system that helps with recycling plastic by numbers.||United States|
|1988||General||Organization (for-profit)||ReCycled Refuse International Ltd is founded in Switzerland. It produces renewable energy through recursive recycling.||Switzerland|
|1988||Precycling||Concept development||The term precycling is introduced for a waste awareness campaign in Berkeley, California. It is the practice of reducing waste by attempting to avoid bringing items which will generate waste into home or business.||United States|
|1988||Curbside recycling||Statistics||The number of curbside recycling programs in the United States increases to about 1,050.||United States|
|1988||Plastic recycling||Recycling code release||The Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) creates the Resin Identification Code to help recycling programs identify the resin content in plastic waste.||United States|
|1989||General||Organization (non-profit)||The Center for the Development of Recycling is founded at San Jose State University, California. It works on urban water conservation and recycling projects.||United States|
|1990||General||Program launch||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||Refrigerant reclamation||Policy||The United States Congress Clean Air Act of 1990 mandates that all chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and halocarbons, containing fluorine, chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen (HCFCs) be reclaimed.||United States|
|1990||Plastic recycling||System introduction||Coca-Cola begins blending recycled plastics into its beverage bottles.|
|1990s||General||Single-stream recycling||Single-stream recycling is introduced in California, as a system that combines all recyclable items such as paper, plastic, metal, and glass together in a collection truck, rather than being sorted into separate materials and handled separately throughout the entire process.|
|1991–2011||General||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||Packaging recycling||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||General||Organization||The Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd (SATCoL) is established, in order to create jobs and benefit the environment through recycling.|
|1991||Electronic recycling||System introduction||The first electronic waste recycling system is implemented in Switzerland, beginning with collection of old refrigerators but gradually expanding to cover all devices.||Switzerland|
|1991||General||Program launch||Germany introduced its recycling system with the "green dot" as a symbol.||Germany|
|1991–2017||Tire recycling||Industry||The stockpile of scrap tires shrinks from over a billion to just 60 million in this period. According to the tire industry, tire recycling is a major success story.|
|1992||Curbside recycling||Policy||The number of Kerbside collection 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|
|1993||Plastic recycling||Organization (non-profit)||Brussels-based non-profit European trade association Petcore is founded to promote the collection, sorting and recycling of post-consumer PET bottles.||Belgium|
|1993||General||Policy||Israel issues its Law for the Collection of Recycling (1993). This law provides the principles and the legal framework for recycling in the country.||Israel|
|1994||General||Concept development||The term downcycling is first used. It refers to the recycling of waste where the recycled material is of lower quality and functionality than the original material.|
|1994||Packaging recycling||Policy||A Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste is introduced by the European Union (EU) member states. The essence of the directive is that: “Packaging shall be designed…to permit reuse or recovery…and to minimize its impact on the environment when…disposed of.”||European Union|
|1994–2010||Tire recycling||Statistics||The European Union increases the amount of tires recycled from 25% of annual discards to nearly 95%, with roughly half of the end-of-life tires used for energy, mostly in cement manufacturing.||European Union|
|1995||Aluminum recycling||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||Packaging recycling||Organization (non-profit)||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.|
|1995||Land recycling||Program launch||Pennsylvania's Land Recycling Program is introduced as a package of laws passed by the legislature with the purpose to redevelop brownfield land.||United States|
|1996||General||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||General||System introduction||Norwegian companies Elopak and SINTEF team up to sell the first infra-red sorting machine.||Germany|
|1996||General||Criticism||Columnist John Tierney writes in a New York Times Magazine article that “recycling is garbage.” “Mandatory recycling programs […] offer mainly short-term benefits to a few groups—politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations and waste handling corporations—while diverting money from genuine social and environmental problems. Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America.”||United States|
|1997||General||Program launch||America Recycles Day is created on November 15 by the National Recycling Coalition. Every year since then, the President of the United States usually issues a Presidential Proclamation recognizing this day and encourage his fellow Americans to commit to the act of recycling.||United States|
|1997||Mobile phone recycling||Program launch||The first take back pilot program for mobile phone recycling takes place in Europe. It is run in Sweden and United Kingdom and is executed by member companies of the European Telecommunications and Professional Electronics Industry association., a group consisting of six mobile phone manufacturers.||Sweden, United Kingdom|
|1997||Vehicle recycling||Program launch||The European Commission adopts a Proposal for a Directive which makes vehicle dismantling and recycling more environmentally friendly, seting clear quantified targets for reuse, recycling and recovery of vehicles and their components and pushing producers to manufacture new vehicles also with a view to their recyclability.||European Union|
|1998||Electronic recycling||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||General||Policy||Extended producer responsibility programs (EPR) start being adopted in Switzerland.||Switzerland|
|1998||Curbside recycling||Organization||Ukranian state enterprise Ukrecoresursy launches with the purpose to provide waste recycling services.||Ukraine|
|1998||General||Statistics||The number of roadside recycling programs in the United States reaches 9,000, with 12,000 recyclable drop-off centers.||United States|
|1999||General||Policy||Norway introduces a scheme calling for manufacturers to establish regional collection centers to process the products, recycling where possible and economically viable.||Norway|
|2000||General||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||Paper recycling||Organization (non-profit)||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.|
|2000||General||Organization (non-profit)||New Zelander non-profit organization Xtreme Waste is founded. It is dedicated to recycling.||New Zealand|
|2000||Concrete recycling||Statistics||Japan reaches a concrete recycling rate of 96%.||Japan|
|2001||Electronic recycling||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||Metal recycling||Organization (non-profit)||The British Metals Recycling Association is formed. It represents over 300 organizations working across the British metal recycling sector.||United Kingdom|
|2001||Vehicle recycling||Policy||China implements its Management Rules of Recycling End-of-Life Vehicles.||China|
|2001||General||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|
|2001||Plasterboard/drywall recycling||Organization (for profit)||Danish company Gypsum Recycling International is founded.||Denmark|
|2001||Electronic recycling||Policy||Japan enacts its Home Appliance Recycling Law, which introduces a recycling framework for household electric equipment.|
|2001||Upcycling||Organization (for-profit)||American recycling company TerraCycle is founded with the mission to eliminate the idea of waste.||United States|
|2002||Textile recycling||Organization (non-profit)||The Carpet America Recovery Effort launches as a joint industry-government non-profit organization whose mission is to develop market-based solutions for recovering value from discarded carpets.||United States|
|2002||Glass recycling, Plastic recycling||Policy||New York City, an early municipal recycling pioneer, eliminates glass and plastic recycling, after finding that the benefits of recycling plastic and glass are outweighed by the price—recycling cost twice as much as disposal.||United States|
|2003||Electronic recycling||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||Electronic recycling||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|
|2003||Curbside recycling||Organization (non-profit)||American independent 501(c)3 Curbside Value Partnership is founded. It is a non-profit organization operating Kerbside collection.||United States|
|2003||Freecycling||Organization (non-profit)|| The Freecycle Network (
|2003||Electronic recycling||Organization (non-profit)||The e-Stewards initiative launches as an electronics waste recycling standard created by the Basel Action Network. It is a non-profit organization that offers recycling solutions for enterprises, recyclers, and consumers.||United States|
|2003||Curbside recycling||Policy||The British Household Waste Recycling Act 2003 requires local authorities in England to provide every household with a separate collection of at least two types of recyclable materials by 2010.||United Kingdom|
|2003||Appliance recycling||Policy||The California Electronic Waste Recycling Act is signed. It establishes 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|
|2004||Vegetable oil recycling||Policy||The different Belgian regions impose collection and recycling targets on producers of frying oils and frying fats.||Belgium|
|2005||Single-stream recycling||Statistics||About a fifth of all communities in the United States with recycling programs use single-stream recycling.||United States|
|2005||Aircraft recycling||System introduction||Airbus becomes a pioneer in the field of aircraft recycling when it launches PAMELA, a project that demonstrates that up to 85% of each aircraft’s components could be safely and effectively reused, recovered or recycled, compared to just 60% before the project’s inception.|
|2005||Aircraft recycling||Organization (non-profit)||The Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association is founded by 11 organizations from various sectors of the aircraft industry, including Boeing, Europe Aviation and Rolls Royce, which agree to join forces to develop an industry code of conduct and industry-developed recommended best practice in the areas of aircraft dismantling and materials recycling.|
|2005||Vehicle recycling||Policy||Japan passes its Automobile Recycling Law, the first in Asia.||Japan|
|2006||Electronic recycling||Organization (non-profit)||The World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association launches. It is a not-for-profit business consortium dedicated to the reform of the trade of e-waste.|
|2006||Battery recycling||Policy||The European Union passes the Battery Directive, one of the aims of which is a higher rate of battery recycling. The EU directive states that at least 25% of all the EU's used batteries must be collected by 2012, and rising to no less than 45% by 2016, of which at least 50% must be recycled.||European Union|
|2006||Upcycling||Program launch||The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura in Paraguay is created by the program Sounds of the Earth, directed by Luis Szaran. The instruments of the orchestra are made from materials taken from the landfill of Asunción, whose name comes from the Cateura lagoon in the area.||Paraguay|
|2007||Electronic recycling||Policy||Five U.S. states pass laws requiring that unwanted electronics be recycled.||United States|
|2007||Plastic recycling||Organization (non-profit)||Non-governmental non-profit organization Trashy Bags is founded in Ghana with the purpose to "contribute to cleaning up the streets of Accra". It turns plastic waste into reusable shopping bags, fashion accessories, school supplies, and other products.||Ghana|
|2007||Electronic recycling||Organization (for-profit)||BuyMyTronics.com launches as an electronics resale business in Denver, Colorado.||United States|
|2008||Paper recycling||Program launch||The USPS Post Office Box Lobby Recycling program launches in the United States as a project for consumers to recycle paper items, using recycling bins placed in the customer lobbies of post office buildings.||United States|
|2008||PET bottle recycling||Statistics||The amount of post-consumer PET bottles collected for recycling and sold in the United States is approximately 1.45 billion pounds in this year.||United States|
|2008||General||Organization (for-profit)||Rubicon is founded. It provides a suite of SaaS products for waste, recycling, and smart city solutions.||United States|
|2008||General||Statistics (infrastructure)||48 recycling plants operate in Japan, with around 380 sites are designated for collection.||Japan|
|2009||Scrap recycling||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|
|2009||Drug recycling||Organization (non-profit)||SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine) is launched by Stanford University students as a nonprofit organization which advocates for drug recycling.||United States|
|2010||Metal recycling||Statistics||The metal recycling industry generates US$64 billion in the United States in the year.||United States|
|2010||Concrete recycling||Statistics||It is estimated that the United States recycles approximately 140 million tons of concrete per year.||United States|
|2010||Mobile phone recycling||Program launch||Nokia introduces mobile recycling programs in Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Pakistan, Panama, Belarus, Bosnia, Malta, and Ukraine, in order to promote a recycling culture.||Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Pakistan, Panama, Belarus, Bosnia, Malta, Ukraine|
|2010–2011||Upcycling||Trend growth||The number of products on Etsy or Pinterest tagged with the word "upcycled" increases from about 7,900 in January 2010 to nearly 30,000 a year later—an increase of 275%.|
|2011||Computer recycling||Program launch||Australia establishes its National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme to provide local households and small businesses with access to free industry-funded collection and recycling services for televisions and computers, including printers, computer parts and peripherals.||Australia|
|2011||Aircraft recycling||Industry||Boeing starts recycling carbon fibre.||United States|
|2012||Electronic recycling||Statistics||More than 585 million pounds of consumer electronics are recycled. This is an increase of 125 million pounds (more than 25%) over 2011.|
|2012||Single-stream recycling||Statistics (infrastructure)||As of year there are 248 materials recovery facilities operating in the United States.||United States|
|2012||PET bottle recycling||Statistics||81% of the PET bottles sold in Switzerland in this year are recycled.||Switzerland|
|2013||Single-stream recycling||Statistics||As of year, 100 million Americans are served by single-stream recycling programs.||United States|
|2013||General||Program launch||Operation Green Fence launches in China as an effort to start getting exporting countries to clean their recycling, their plastics in particular.||China|
|2014||Textile recycling||Statistics||Over 16 million tons of textile waste are generated in the United States in the year. Of this amount, 2.62 million tons are recycled, 3.14 million tons are combusted for energy recovery, and 10.46 million tons are sent to the landfill.||United States|
|2014||General||Background||About 258 million tons of trash are generated in the United States. 66.4 million tons are recycled and 23 million tons of this material are composted. A 34.6 percent recycling rate is calculated. On average, Americans recycle and compost 1.51 pounds of their individual waste generation of 4.44 pounds per person per day.||United States|
|2015||Plastic recycling||Statistics||An estimated 9 percent out of a cumulative 5800 million tons of primary plastic no longer in use is estimated to have been recycled. In the year, an estimated 55 percent of global plastic waste is discarded, 25 percent is incinerated, and 20 percent recycled.||Worldwide|
|2015||Tire recycling||Organization (for-profit)||New Delhi-based environment sustainability company Tyrelessly is founded. It provides tire Recycling.||India|
|2016||General||Financial||The recycling industry generates revenue volume of US$160 billion throughout the world in the year, and employs around 1.5 million people.|
|2016||General||Statistics||Study by the United States Recycling Economic Information (REI) finds that in a single year, recycling and reuse activities in the United States account for: 757,000 jobs, U$36.6 billion in wages, and US$6.7 billion in tax revenues. This equates to 1.57 jobs, US$76,000 in wages, and US$14,101 in tax revenues for every 1,000 tons of materials recycled.||United States|
|2016||Paint recycling||Organization (non-profit)||Paintback is founded in Australia as an industry-led non-profit initiative "designed to divert unwanted paint and packaging from ending up in landfill and vital waterways".||Australia|
|2017 (July)||General||Policy||China announces its Operation National Sword, a new regulation on imports of solid wastes as raw materials. The policy bans various plastic, paper and solid waste, including plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene (PE), polyvinyl chloride PVC and polystyrene (PS).||China|
|2017||Paper/cardboard recycling||Statistics||The recycling rate in the United States is reported at 65.9%, which is among the highest compared to other materials in municipal solid waste.||United States|
|2017||General||Recognition||The World Economic Forum names Germany recycling world champion.||Germany|
|2018||General||Program launch||The Global Recycling Day launches on March 18.|
|2018||Paper/cardboard recycling||Statistics||Recycling of paper and paperboard products in the United States is estimated to be of approximately 5 million tons.||United States|
|2018||PET bottle recycling||Statistics||90% of the PET bottles sold in Finland in this year were recycled.||Finland|
|2018||Electronic recycling||Product launch||Apple Inc. introduces Daisy, a smartphone-recycling robot that can take apart 200 iPhones every hour. About 48,000 metric tons of electronic waste are reported are reported to be diverted from landfills this year.|
|2018||Paper recycling||Organization (for-profit)||RecyclePaperZA is established in South Africa.||South Africa|
|2018||General||Statistics (infrastructure)||In the United States, there are over 300 materials recovery facilities.||United States|
|2018 (March)||Scrap recycling||Policy||China's Operation National Sword goes into full effect, banning 24 types of scrap and implementing much stricter and more rigorous contamination standards. As a result, local governments and the recycling industry begin to face an unprecedented recycling crisis, especially in plastics.||China|
|2019||Fluorescent lamp recycling||System introduction||The world's first LED lamp recycling system is introduced.||United Kingdom|
|2019||General||Program launch||America Recycles Day becomes an integral part of the Keep America Beautiful campaign.||United States|
|2019||Plastic recycling||Recyclability||Swiss food company Nestlé recognizes that certain types of plastic, including expanded polystyrene, simply cannot be recycled.|
|2030||Plastic recycling||Program launch||Coca Cola intends to use 50% recycled polyethylene terephthalate in its containers by this year.|
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