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History of Recycling Bins

History of Recycling Bins

You probably only think about your recycling bin when it’s time for your regular trip outside to deposit your recyclables. But like pretty much everything we take for granted these days, recycling bins have an interesting history. Here’s our guide to the history of recycling bins.

Where were recycling bins first used?

Though the UK was the birthplace of many genius inventions, we didn’t invent recycling bins. In fact, the earliest recorded use of receptacles resembling recycling bins was in Paris in the 1880s. Eugène-René Poubelle, a lawyer and diplomat, introduced waste containers to Paris and made their use compulsory.

These containers were wooden, lined with metal, and had a lid. Each house got three containers, each for a different waste stream. One was for biodegradable waste, one was for paper and cloth, and another was for glass and crockery.

Though the containers weren’t well-received by residents, Poubelle clearly had a lasting influence on French waste management. La Poubelle is the most common word the French use for a bin!

The introduction of the wheelie bin

The history of recycling bins as we know them today really began with the invention of the plastic wheelie bin. Slough-based company Frank Rotherham Mouldings began using wheelies in 1968. Though it wasn’t to dispose of rubbish.

Workers used the bins to transport waste from one part of the factory to the other. An eagle-eyed health and safety inspector noticed this when he visited the factory and had a brain wave. These plastic bins could be used as lightweight waste containers which would solve the problem of waste collection-related back pain. The rest, as they say, is history.

Recycling bins in the UK

When it came to adopting recycling bins, the UK was a little late to the party. The US state of Missouri introduced the first kerbside recycling bin, dubbed ‘The Tree Saver’ in 1974. The bin was designed to collect waste paper. Two years later, the state of Massachusetts got the first-ever Environmental Protection Agency recycling grants. This meant that it too could adopt recycling bins and collection schemes.

In the UK, you have to fast-forward all the way until October 2003 when the government passed the Household Waste Recycling Act. The legislation meant that every local authority in the UK had to provide every household with a separate recycling collection by 2010.

Recycling bins are the future

Now you know a bit about the history of recycling bins, let us tell you a little about their future. The UK government has set its sights on achieving an overall 70% recycling rate for all packaging by 2030. It has also set a target of recycling 55% of plastic packaging by the same year. With the climate catastrophe seemingly worsening by the day, recycling bins could be part of the solution.

Used properly, we could all make a difference in our homes and workplaces. Let’s recycle more, recycle correctly, and keep our planet safe for generations to come! For more interesting articles on recycling bins, sustainability, and the environment, check out the rest of our blog.

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