01684 292727 sales@recyclingbins.co.uk
RecyclingBins.co.uk Trustpilot

We guarantee to have the lowest price! Find the same bin for a cheaper price and we will beat it!

Where Did Recycling Begin?

Where Did Recycling Begin?

Where Did Recycling Begin?

Recycling is not a new thing. Throughout the ages, people have reused the planet’s natural resources as much as possible, especially when times were hard.

The huge growth in global population has driven up demand for raw materials and ever more goods, and this has put a lot of pressure on the planet. There is more of a need to recycle and reuse goods now more than ever, but we definitely aren’t the first generation to have embraced the concept.

The timeline of recycling

Ancient times

There is evidence that broken glass was recycled into new items in the Mediterranean and Turkey. Bronze coins were reused and turned into ornaments in ancient Rome.

The middle ages

Metal, ceramics, and textiles were all recycled in the middle ages. The first paper recycling happened in Japan as early as 1031. In Britain, dust and ash from coal fires was collected and turned into a base material for making bricks. Recycling made sense because it was more economic than buying the raw materials, and there were no public waste management systems in place at this time.

The Middle Ages

The 20th century and wartime

The late 19th century onwards was the industrial age, and recycling was not as much of a priority, as materials and products were more available.

However, the development of railways and the growing steel and car industries purchased a lot of scrap metal and repurposed it.

Some people made a living from the collection of scrap metals from rubbish tips.

The war brought the challenge of rationing though, and many campaigns promoted the reuse and recycling of everyday products as much as possible due to a shortage of material resources.

1960’s onwards

An interest in environmental issues developed in the 1960’s, and this was coupled with protests against consumerism.

Rising energy costs in the 1970’s led to an investment in recycling, and environmental legislation was introduced in 1986, then in 1991, which paved the way for the introduction of EU directives on waste reduction and excessive packaging.

Consumer electronics had been becoming increasingly popular since the 1920’s, electronics were not widely recycled until the 1990’s.

The first electronic waste recycling scheme began in Switzerland, and old fridges were collected and recycled. The scheme was expanded to include all electronics.

Many countries didn’t have the resources to deal with this type of waste, as it often contained hazardous substances. This is when the exporting of this waste to developing countries began. It is cheaper to recycle waste in poorer countries and they don’t have the amount of legislation around waste that more developed countries have.

A lot of electronic waste was sent to Asia, where valuable metals like nickel, iron, and copper could be extracted from the items and sold for scrap.

1970s Electronics

The situation today

Recycling now takes place in all developed countries, from households to large corporations. Paper, glass, metal, plastics, electronics, and textiles are widely recycled, and recycling is incorporated into large events such as music festivals.

The recycling industry in Europe consists of around 60,000 companies employing half a million people. The Recycling rate in Europe currently ranges from 39% to 65%.

Future perspectives

As intense as campaigning in favour of recyclingis today, on the government’s part as well as that of a number of foundations and private organisations, it is not yet mandatory. However, that is expected to happen in the near future as the present young generations are being raised into the spirit of nature conservation. Needless to say, if developed into an obsession, that is a just cause for concern, as extremist attitudes are starting to emerge, calling for radical measures such as population control in order to avoid waste. In a likely succession, not recycling will first be perceived as socially reprehensible, then morally unacceptable, then illegal.

Absurdities are also likely to happen, such as unannounced rubbish auditing conducted by councils, which is very intrusive. Nonetheless, it is up to the general population to discern what level-headed green activism is and what is simply an exaggeration of it, and draw the line somewhere. Meanwhile, it is clear that while mindless consumerism continues to be a reality, fanatical attitudes aside, it is beneficial for recycling to be embraced by more people.

As of 2014, the European Union has about 50% of world share of the waste and recycling industries, with over 60,000 companies employing 500,000 persons, with a turnover of €24 billion.[22] Countries have to reach recycling rates of at least 50%, while the lead countries are around 65% and the EU average is 39% as of 2013.[23]

What can be recycled

Paper: Most paper based products can now be recycled, by turning them into pulp and then into brand new paper to be used for making similar products. This is a particularly useful cycle for newsprint and office paper, as it tends to pile up in a very wasteful manner.

Cardboard: Cardboard resulted mostly from packaging is collected and recycled into new cardboard, to be used towards the same purpose.

Glass: Although glass recipients are successfully reused and reusing is often preferred to recycling, three types of glass can be recycled, namely clear (which is the most commonly found in products on the market), green and brown.

Metal: Metal provides one of the highest efficiency rates when recycled, as the quality of the resulting metals is almost as high as that of the initial ones. In addition to that, items made from recycled metals are cheaper and less polluting to produce, as the metals have already undergone some essential processing. The most frequently recycled metals are aluminium, steel, copper, lead and zinc.

Plastic: Unlike metal, glass and paper, which are often turned into items resembling the original ones, plastic is usually recycled into objects of completely different properties and appearance.

Other recyclables include electronics, textiles (which have been recycled since pre-industrial times), tetra packs, batteries and envelopes.

Your Basket

Your basket is currently empty.

Shop Now