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The History of Garbage Disposal

2014-10-21 By Admin

Everyday, we throw stuff into our garbage cans, left-over food that's gone bad, broken toys and electronics, drained batteries, tissues, napkins and paper plates, the list goes on and on. Where it all goes, in most cases, is to a local landfill, where's its burned, buried, or recycled for other uses.  Depending on what you put in the rubbish receptacle, it might get a new life as a plastic or could be forever buried deep where it essentially composts and degrades.

What you might wonder is how we've arrived at such a sophisticated system of waste management.

Trash Trips from Consumer to Landfill

The reason we have landfills is because of the absolute need. Across the globe, people generate an astounding amount of garbage, in excess of 2.6 trillion pounds. In fact, the average person generates 2.6 pounds each and every day. About half of that tonnage is organic, mostly discarded food.

In ancient cities, wastes were thrown onto unpaved streets and roadways, where they were left to accumulate. It was not until 320 bce in Athens that the first known law forbidding this practice was established. At that time a system for waste removal began to evolve in Greece and in the Greek-dominated cities of the eastern Mediterranean. --Encyclopedia Britannica

If you work out the math, that means that a man, with an average weight of 175 pounds, produces his weight in rubbish every quarter, or every three months. Of all of it, about 17 percent is paper, 10 percent is plastic, 5 percent is glass, and 4 percent is metal. With so much, a systematic service is necessary to keep where we live sanitary.

A Brief History of Garbage Disposal

The history of waste management is one that actually dates back to ancient Greece, as the nearby quote explains. For many years, people simply threw their waste out onto the street. In fact, there's an old French saying, "guard de l'eau" (pronounced guard-de-loo). It was shouted down to the street just before someone threw out chamber-pot waste.  Here in the United States, after 1880, when scavengers removed 15,000 horse carcasses from the streets of New York City, the first ever garbage incinerator is built in 1885 on Governor's Island in New York. About 1910, some twenty-five years later, city beautification leagues are formed, comprised of volunteers, and sanitation workers begin to wear white uniforms.  During the late 1920's and through the 1930's food saving items common today, like cellophane and plastic containers are first manufactured to help reduce food waste. In the 1950's TV dinners are invented and nine years later, the The American Society of Civil Engineers publishes a paper on the building of sanitary landfills. That was followed by the passing of the The Solid Waste Disposal Act in 1969, which lead the way for today's waste disposal and management.

Filed Under: Company News

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