Recycling vehicles: A brief history

This article was taken from Issue 78

At the beginning of the 20th century ‘recycling’ was just a part of life. There was little packaging and no plastic to be thrown away. Things that are considered disposable today were repaired or repurposed, to the extent that the majority of the national municipal waste stream was dust and cinders until the 1950s. In the 1870s, in fact, when the first compositional data is available, the UK dustbin was made up of 84 per cent cinders and dust, 7.1 per cent putrescibles, 5.0 per cent paper and board, and just 0.5 per cent glass and metal.