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Evolution of Recycling

Ever wonder how recycling came about?  Actually, it has been around for longer than you might think. Forms of recycling have been in existence probably longer than the timelines date.

Many sources cite Japan as the first on record to recycle paper as far back as 1031.

Recycling efforts can also be seen predating the industrial era, including the re-use of metals in Europe. This came about mostly because of necessity, where materials were often spare and garbage removal didn’t exist.

An Australian paper mill used recycled rags and turned them into paper in 1815, with paper recycling by homes and businesses emerging in the 1920’s.

In Britain, the powdery remnants from fires were formed into a composite used for making bricks. Furthermore, the British Waste Paper Association was opened in 1921, which promoted reutilizing cast-off paper.

In the 1970’s, awareness of environmental and energy waste spiked, and the first Earth Day was born. As energy expenses in the U.S. began to upsurge, the notion that waste needed to be dealt with differently became less of a passive thought. Berkeley, California was active in the promotion of the need for re-use in the U.S., instating newspaper recycling in 1973. Increased ecological concern prompted recycling efforts and led the prohibition of polystyrene in 1989, which was a major component in a food wrapper used by a popular restaurant giant. This voraciously provoked the chemical companies that produced it to think of a different way to reuse plastic.

Households worldwide recycle more than ever now, and awareness and improvements are continuing. For instance, according to statistics, Australia saw an amazing 825% rise in material wide recycling from 1996 through 1997. Also, during the years 2002 and 2003, 88% of all Australian households recycled paper and cardboard items.

The United Kingdom has seen an increase in recycling as well. From 2000 to 2001 only 2.8 million tons of wastes were recycled, compared to 8 million from 2006 to 2007, with a total of 30.9% of individual homes recycling during this time.

The U.S. is a top producer in making waste and using mass amounts of plastics, aluminum and steel, just to name a few. Data shows around a 100% growth in U.S. recycling in the past 10 years, with 53.4% of paper materials being reprocessed.

Reviewing the history and advancement of recycling is interesting, and though the endeavors are impressive in many areas, more effort is in demand. Managing natural resources and continuing to recycle already made materials is imperative. Recycling has come a long way, however, and hopefully it will continue to travel down the road to progress.

Sources:

http://1800recycling.com/recycling/
http://www.recyclingcenters.org/history_of_recycling.php
http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement
http://recyclingweek.planetark.org/recycling-info/history.cfm

 

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