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The History Of Rubbish Removal And Recycling Services

It’s pretty much impossible as a society to produce zero waste, so for centuries people have had to come up with ways to manage their rubbish removal and recycling. We might think of waste management as a relatively modern process, but the first landfills actually date all the way back to Ancient Greece in around 3000 BC. Recycling services are vital for several reasons; from keeping our planet clean and tidy to preserving precious natural resources.

There are several different methods of rubbish removal and recycling, many of which have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. From collection services to landfill, composting or high tech plastic recycling services, there are many ways to deal with our waste. If you’d like to know more about how rubbish removal and recycling services have changed over the years, read on to find out more.

Why is waste management so important?

Waste management has several important functions, including reducing the impact rubbish has on the environment, keeping living areas hygienic, and maintaining the general health of the population. Managing waste also has aesthetic benefits too, after all, no one wants to look at large piles of rubbish next to their home or workplace.

Poor waste management can cause land, air and water pollution which has a negative effect on both the human population and local plants and animals. Landfill sites are one way of managing waste, but it’s important to have other methods and recycling services in place too. Using landfill as the sole method of waste disposal long term can cause pollution and damage to the surrounding areas as the waste breaks down.

The history

As stated, rubbish removal methods have been around for thousands of years and have become increasingly sophisticated and organised as the centuries go on. In recent years, recycling methods have also seen a vast increase, as people reflect on the impact that waste material has on our planet. If you’d like to know more about how rubbish removal and recycling methods have evolved over the years, see below for our handy guide.

Early methods

The first recorded landfills date all the way back to 3000 BC and were found in Knossos, Crete. They were relatively simple and consisted of large pits covered in earth. Municipal landfills were also built in Athens and these were governed by their own set of legislation.

1300s Britain

Legislation was passed in 1297 which ruled that tenants had the responsibility of keeping the front of their houses clear of rubbish. This is one of the first recorded attempts to manage the amount of waste in Britain and give individuals the responsibility of keeping their own property clean. However, the rule was largely ignored and by the mid-1300s workers known as ‘rakers’ were employed specifically to remove London’s waste.

The Industrial Revolution

Waste management remained largely unchanged for several centuries, but the 18th century Industrial Revolution brought waste problems of its own. The rapid advancement of technology and production processes meant that cities expanded very quickly, bringing increased amounts of waste from larger populations and excess production materials.

The first organised solid waste management system in London also appeared around this time and a waste collection and recycling system was set up around the dust yards. Leftover coal ash (or ‘dust’) could be resold and used in brick making or as a soil additive.

The first Public Health Act

The 1848 Public Health Act was the first law on public health to be passed in the United Kingdom. It drastically changed the efficiency and ways that waste was managed, partly by appointing a Central Board of Health who had the task of improving sanitation and general living conditions in England and Wales.

The 1848 act was designed to manage waste regulation and a second act was introduced in 1875 which aimed to put an end to scavenging through other people’s rubbish. Households were obligated to store their waste in a ‘moveable receptacle’ and the first modern dustbin was born!

Incineration plants

The sudden increase in waste following the Industrial Revolution meant that waste disposal methods had to become as quick and efficient as possible. This demand led to the build of the first incineration plants, or ‘destructors’ as they were called. The first incinerator was built in Nottingham in 1874, but there was some resistance from nearby residents due to the amount of ash that these plants produced.

Post War waste disposal

During the post-war period, landfills came to be the favoured rubbish disposal method over incinerators. This was partly due to the introduction of the Clean Air Act introduced in 1956, which reduced the amount of household fires lit by families burning their own waste. Controls over how much rubbish could be burnt meant that there was an increase in the volumes of rubbish to be removed.

The Clean Air Act was designed to reduce acid rain pollution and improve the health of the general public by cutting sulfur dioxide emissions.

The recycling boom

Friends of the Earth launched their first recycling campaign in 1971, which returned thousands of glass bottles to the drinks giant Schweppes. Its aim was to highlight the amount of glass wastage in the UK and encourage people to re-use and recycle as much waste as possible.

This ‘green revolution’ continued throughout the 1990s, with one highlight being the 1996 government strategy Making Waste Work. This was a detailed waste strategy which outlined how a minimum of 25% of all household waste could be recycled by the year 2000.


Modern recycling and waste disposal methods

Nowadays, there are many different waste disposal methods available, from landfill sites to incineration plants, composting and food waste recycling. Professional recycling companies will have facilities and techniques available to recycle as much waste as possible, from plastic bottles to glass, cardboard and building materials such as aggregates.

Nowadays, there’s an abundance of products made from recycled materials, including bottles, bags, clothing, furniture and even things like roads or buildings made from recycled plastic. The past few decades have seen a move away from waste disposal methods like landfill, as people become more aware of the impact that pollution and waste has on our planet. As well as using the most eco-friendly rubbish disposal methods possible, there’s a strong focus on reducing the amount of waste produced in the first place.

Devon Contract Waste – Professional commercial waste disposal and recycling services 

As you can see, waste management has evolved a great deal over the years and great efforts have been put in place to recycle as much of our waste as possible. If you’re looking for a professional waste management company in Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton or Cornwall, get in touch with Devon Contract Waste. We’re proud to offer full waste disposal and recycling services and can handle all waste types from mixed waste to electronic waste, hazardous waste, green waste and more.

We also have a wide range of waste containers for you to dispose of your rubbish, including bins, skips, bags and hazardous waste drums. For more information about any of our waste disposal or recycling services, give us a call today to discuss your requirements or visit our website.

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