How Has Recycling Changed?

sustainability in waste

How Has Recycling Changed?

The methods and processes attached to recycling are very different in the modern world than they were 100 years ago.Today’s post investigates some of the changes and why they have come about. The big question is however, is the way we do things today, more effective?

Let’s dive in and pop across to America

During the Second World War, people would go out ‘salvaging’. This was the process of collecting tin cans and other scrap metals in exchange for money. Salvaging can be classed as one of the first widespread recycling initiatives.

And staying with the USA….

A place known as ‘Fresh Kills’ was opened in 1947. Sounds ominous don’t you think? In fairness it probably was! Based on Staten Island in New York, Fresh Kills was the first landfill site to open with a set duration of just 20 years. How long do you think it lasted…..?


Yes, you read that correctly. The site remained functional until 2001. That’s an awful lot of waste…..

Are you aware of Earth Day?

This is an event held every year on 22nd April. The focus surrounds environmental protection and spans across the globe
in more than 193 countries. Have you ever been involved in Earth Day? Is this something you would like to support? Is there anything Greenbank could support you with?

1987’s Garbage Barge

Another strange sounding feature. So what exactly was this? Quite simply, a boat filled to the brim with waste. Spotted
circling the US coast, people began talking about where exactly rubbish was going.

So when did the UK begin recycling?

Back in 1970, a young man named Gary Anderson entered a competition. The instructions were to create a symbol to clearly represent recycled paper. Mr Anderson won! Not only did he receive around $2000, his logo is now used globally. It’s the three paper arrows in a triangle that you’re likely to have seen many a time.

But we can go further back….

During the mid 1800s, the UK was seeing a rise in the popularity of books. This meant that paper (originally made from discarded linen rags) was in short supply. Moving forwards to the 1900s, people began purchasing books at auction so they could recycle the fibres into fresh, new paper.

Remember Lowcocks?

Lemonade, Dandelion & Burdock and cream soda (to name a few) were among some of the first favourites offered by this
brand. What made them more appealing was the reward of 15p per bottle upon return. Fantastic! This all began in the 1960s and continued into the early 90s.

What about bottle banks?

6th June 1977 saw the UK’s first ever bottle bank. But how did this arise? A gentleman named Stanley Race dropped an empty
jar into the recycling facility in Barnsley.

And recycling at home?

On October 30th 2003, government passed the recycling bill as law. From this point, homes across the UK were issued with
recycling boxes or bins and encouraged to separate food waste from the likes of tins, glass, cardboard and paper. Waste bins became smaller in order to push people into recycling appropriately and this has become a way of life.

So has landfill reduced given how much we now recycle?

You would think…. It’s suggested that all UK landfill sites will be full by 2022 – it’s a scary thought!

Now let’s answer the original question;

Is the way we do things today more effective? This question is open to much interpretation. As the population continues to
increase, so does the amount of waste produced. However, a lot more of this waste is now recycled.

And it’s not just homes!

Companies are now incentivised to get rid of waste appropriately. For example, with the right machinery (such as a cardboard baler machine), cardboard, polystyrene, plastic and more can be crushed into bales and sold on.

We certainly recycle a lot more than we ever used to, so in terms of carbon footprint, this has to be good!

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