A Brief History of Waste Management

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Waste management is the act of reusing, reducing and recycling waste products for better purposes. Garbage is generated daily by humans in the places they populate. If waste materials are not dealt with in the right way, they can cause harm to living things and the environment. A century ago, cities started becoming responsible for the waste they produced. At that time, urban refuse dealt with coal ash and food scraps with a small proportion of manufactured products like tins and paper.

History of waste management

  • Urbanization and public health. Solid waste started with urbanization that occurred as a result of industrial revolution. Many people started living around industries due to employment opportunities. However, this brought about contagious diseases that could be managed via effective waste management. They were mostly centered on clean water and sewage system
  • Collection services. Municipal refuse included household waste. These were mostly manure and urine from animals. Health organizations compelled the cart men to be provided with collecting bins that do not expose the refuse collected to the environment. Within a few years, the management was transformed into an organized clearance and disposal routine.
  • Composition of garbage. In the 20th century, there were reductions in economic wastes. Inorganic waste disappeared because coal ash was treated as an industrial waste product. Instead, product waste drastically increased.
  • New products. As technology started advancing and new products came up, waste management system had difficulties in disposing products. Chemical waste started piling up and was being disposed of in landfills. Pollution increased and many people who settled near landfills had health complications. Local governments invested in recycling and more landfills. The landfills were adhered to contain contaminants.
  • Public recycling plan. Collection programs for collectable recyclables started coming up. Their main intention was to reduce the flow of waste materials in the landfills and incinerators. Reusing products advanced and was taken into action by many individuals. Scrap metal was sold and reused. It is a side business for many scrap metal collectors.
  • Throwing away garbage. Even with the recycling and reusing idea, it never reduced the amount of waste produced by the public. The weekly waste consumption brought about growth in resource consumption. The use of toxic components introduced public risk in landfills and incinerators. The recycling programs are still trying to manage the waste products that pile up daily.


Managing waste materials is a project that started a century ago. With the increase in population, waste materials keep piling.