The core concepts of waste management – reduce, reuse, recycle – may seem recent to many, but recycling’s history is long and vast. At times when resources were scarce, people have found creative ways to manage their waste and prolong the use of what is already available. Jefferson Recycling is a part of this practice’s continuation, so today it will enlighten us on recycling’s storied history.


Recycling 200,000-Plus Years Ago

In the year 2000, road construction workers discovered Qesem Cave outside of Tel Aviv, Israel. After several years of archaeologists digging, one thing was abundantly clear: these early humans from the Stone Age were recyclers. It was a way of life, as evidenced by thousands of recycled tools made from bone and flint. Due to the weaker nature of these materials, when a tool broke, it would be repurposed to serve another function. Unfortunately, this recycling philosophy has dissipated over time.


500 B.C.: Municipal Dump

As one of the first major western cities, Athens also was one of the first to deal with the stench of concentrated waste. Consequently, it developed the first municipal dump program in western civilization. Citizens were mandated by local laws that waste would be disposed of at least one mile beyond the city walls.


1031 – Reusing Paper Waste

In Japan, paper has long been prized and refined. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Japan is the location of the first recorded recycling of paper. Documents and paper were collected and repulped, then sold at the local mom-and-pop supply stores throughout the country. The United States first implemented paper recycling in 1690. It was introduced at the Rittenhouse Mill near Philadelphia. It made paper from recycling cotton and linen rags.

Today, New Jersey paper recycling programs have been set up to save both you and your community money and reduce the impact of paper consumption in the state. Did you know that New Jersey requires all newspapers to be recycled?


Recycling During the Industrial Revolution

In 1865, the Salvation Army was founded in London, England. It began to salvage and sort countless unwanted goods before recycling them. Its salvage brigades employed unskilled poor people to recover discarded materials. Due to the organization and the success of its salvage programs, it expanded into the United States 30 years later.

At the same time the Salvation Army was arriving in the United States, New York City created its first recovery facility. That’s where trash was sorted in picking yards and separated by prospective material type and quality. This included everything from paper and metals to burlap, rubber and horsehair.

Did you know that rubber and metals are Class B recycling materials in New Jersey?


Recycling From 1900-1950

Recycling began to significantly curry favor as a way to manage the rising amount of waste in the U.S. Several programs and initiatives were set into motion. First was a campaign to embrace the phrase, “Waste as Wealth,” developed for people to see the financial incentive in sorting and reselling items in trash at home.

In 1904, aluminum-can recycling facilities appeared in Chicago and Cleveland.

From World War I to the end of World War II, the United State faced dire shortages of various resources caused by the war efforts and the stock market fallout. Consequently, several raw materials, such as nylon, rubber and metals were rationed and recycled. Many people peddled reclaimed metals and rags to make ends meet.


Recycling From 1960-1980

In 1955, after a huge boom in the economy, marketing firms and media presences such as Life Magazine started celebrating the ease and convenience of single-use items. The subsequent fallout meant litter skyrocketed in parks and forests, and on highways. The throwaway culture has continued in large part to today, but organizations and industries throughout the 1960s and 1970s introduced some of the most popular methods of recycling.

First, in 1964, the aluminum industry moved to an all-aluminum can, which made the recycling of new cans significantly easier. Soon a massive system for recycling and redeeming beverage containers was established nationwide.

It also was at this time that the famous Mobius Loop of waste management – reduce, reuse, recycling – was introduced. It was designed by Gary Anderson, who won a Chicago-based recycling company’s art contest for environmental awareness.

Several other measures were instituted as well. Earth Day was established in 1970 for environmental awareness. Curbside recycling programs began to be offered by municipalities, and the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was enacted to standardize waste disposal.

Recycling From the 1980s to Today

Since the 1980s, recycling has become more and more a part of our consumables consciousness. Starting with Woodbury, New Jersey, cities have mandated recycling. “Blue Box” recycling dispensaries are found everywhere. Fast food companies such as McDonald’s stopped using Styrofoam. And the increased use of electronics has made e-waste a growing national sensitivity.


Commercial and Residential Recycling Opportunities in New Jersey

With the Environmental Protection Agency confirming a direct influence between trash and pollution levels in the environment, we all should be finding better ways to recycle our waste. Jefferson Recycling is a part of this solution. If you are a commercial contractor or in need of environmentally friendly disposal of residential tree stumps and materials from home renovations, contact Jefferson Recycling today.