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5 Examples of Historical Recycling

Despite the modern day obsession with recycling and environmental issues, such activity has been common practice for most of human history.

5 examples of historical recycling:

Compacted steel and aluminium cans recovered using Bunting Magnetics magnetic separators

Compacted steel and aluminium cans recovered using Bunting Magnetics magnetic separators

  1. Archaeological studies of ancient waste dumps show that during periods when resources were scarce there was less household waste (eg ash, discarded plates and other pottery and other broken items such as tool).  This suggest that the waste was actually being recycled.  There are actual records of recycling activity as far back as Plato in 400 BC;
  2. Before the industrial revolution, which started around 1750, there is plenty of evidence of scrap bronze and other metals being collected in Europe and melted down for reuse;
  3. The term ‘dustman’ originates from when dust and ash from wood and coal fires was collected and then used as a base material in brick making;
  4. As the industrial revolution took hold, many secondary goods were collected, processed and sold by peddlers who combed dumps, city streets and went door to door looking for discarded machinery, cooking pots & pans and other metals;
  5. Around 1800, one of the best recycling initiatives of all was when some drinks manufacturers, notably Schweppes, introduced the recycling of glass bottles with consumers paying a refundable deposit;

Recycling has and will continue to be vitally important, but there are many initiatives from the past that could be reintroduced today.  For more information on the automated recycling of metals, go to the Bunting Magnetics Europe website.