Recycling is a daily part of our lives. From sorting our materials at home to remembering to put the bins out, our recycling has become routine. Yet, we still produce tonnes of waste every year. Although the emphasis on recycling seems like a fairly recent development, it’s actually been practiced for a lot longer than we may think.

As we’re all making an effort to recycle more and make a collective impact on our environment, let’s familiarise ourselves with the history of recycling…

  • 1031 – The first instance of paper recycling was recorded in Japan, when shops began selling repulped paper.
  • 1813 – Benjamin Law developed The Shoddy Process in which recycled rags were combined with virgin wool in Yorkshire. This industry was thriving until at least 1914.
  • 19th century – Railroads began buying and selling scrap materials, and growing car industries were buying scrap metals in the early 20th
  • WWI – By World War One, thousands of sellers were scouring the markets for recyclable materials to feed back into industrial processes.
  • 1921 – Arthur D. Little Inc presented “On the Making of Silk Purses from Sows’ Ears” in which they did just that, demonstrating how we can recycle on a day-to-day basis.
  • WWII – Financial difficulties and lack of materials made recycling necessary. This allowed people to make the most of what was offered to them. Government campaigns took place such as the National Salvage Campaign, encouraging the public to donate metals, paper, rubber and rags.
  • 1970s – Investment was put into recycling, with the discovery that recycling aluminium only used 5% of the energy required to produce it from scratch, with other materials having large energy savings as well.
  • 1991 – The first electronic waste recycling scheme was introduced in Switzerland to dispose of consumer electrics, such as fridges and TVs.
  • 2000s – With the rise in sales of electronics came the rise in waste, with electrics being more common than any other type of waste in the EU.
  • 2014 – The EU average recycling rates were 39% in 2013, but have been rising steadily ever since.
  • 2015 – At the United Nations General Assembly, 17 Sustainable Development Goals were set. One of these targets was to substantially reduce waste generation by 2030.

In 2015, England introduced 5p single-use plastic bags in shops in an attempt to reduce the use of plastic across the country. Plastic bag use has dropped by around 80% in England since.  

Our recycling journey is by no means over, and there is still work to be done in order to minimise our impact on the environment. If you’re interested in reducing your landfill contribution, there are steps you can take.

If you have waste that you don’t know how to get rid of, or there are larger items that you can’t dispose of in a responsible way, contact Junk Taxi. We’re capable of disposing of all of your waste and we partner with a company that makes an effort to recycle 90% of what it receives.

Call us on 020 3092 2961 or email to arrange your rubbish collection.

Junk Taxi

Call 020 3092 2961 to discuss your requirements with a member of our team. Alternatively, email We’ll ensure that your rubbish, waste, or unwanted items are collected promptly and professionally.