(Unprinted) Next day dispatch

BOUTIQUE BAGS Minimum 5,000 orders

A Brief History of Recycling and Waste Management (Part 1 of a 3-Article Series)

Tuesday, September 05, 2017 | Comments (0)

(This is the first of a 3-article series)

With Australians celebrating Earth Day and National Recycling Week each year, it can seem that the global recycling trend is a movement that began in the 1970s, when public concern over the environmental impact of human activity was high enough to prompted government officials to take action.

But recycling goes back much further than that, especially when you consider creative reuse. In fact, even in the ancient world, societies have already been trying to manage their waste, albeit in rudimentary ways. 

In this brief history of recycling, we look at the most significant milestones in recycling and waste management. 

500 B.C. 

Archaeologists have discovered that the ancient Athenians were already trying to manage their waste, requiring citizens to throw their garbage in a dump site a few kilometres away from the city walls.


The first documented example of deliberate paper recycling comes from Japan in 1031, where the government mandated citizens to repulp all waste paper into new sheets of paper.


The first paper mill designed to recycle rags into paper was built. 


The Salvation Army is established in London, aiming to collect, sort, and reuse unwanted goods. The Household Salvage Brigades went door to door to collect discarded materials fit for recycling. The Salvation Army and its program would eventually migrate to the United States in the 1890s. 


Aluminium cans are introduced into the market. The aluminium industry would realize the value of used aluminium cans as a recyclable raw material for new cans, paving way for a huge system of collecting and recycling used beverage cans.


The Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle movement adopt the Mobius Loop as its symbol. Derived from a Mobius strip, the symbol was designed by Gary Anderson as a submission to a logo contest organized by Container Corporation of America, a recycled-container company in Chicago. 

The logo’s introduction also marked the first celebration of Earth Day.


Canterbury Council became the first municipality in Australia to adopt magnetic separation to segregate steel waste, most notably, aluminium cans.

1980s to early 1990s

Kerbside recycling programs were first introduced in Sydney, allowing households to segregate common waste items such as glass, aluminium, paper, PET, HDPE milk containers, steel cans, and juice cartons. 

Later in 1992, Australia became one of the first countries to enact a national voluntary recycling plan thanks to the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council’s (ANZECC) endorsement of a National Kerbside Recycling Strategy, which took aim at major packaging industries.


The Australia Government introduced the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, which requires importers and manufacturers to collaborate with non-profit organisations to establish convenient and free recycling drop off points in the country.


Australian Paper began the construction of a paper recycling facility in Victoria, with the goal of increasing production of recycled paper. It is the only premium paper recycling plant in Australia, capable of producing high-quality office and printing paper from recycled materials.


A team of researchers at Stanford University have developed a new biodegradable semiconductor said to be as flexible as human skin. The development is poised to solve the problem of e-waste.

At Smartbag, we take pride in producing and distributing packaging materials made from sustainable and recyclable materials. To learn more about our product line, get in touch with the Smartbag team on our Contact Page


Post has no comments.
Post a Comment

Captcha Image

Trackback Link
Post has no trackbacks.