The Growth of Plastics Recycling

Recycling today is a complex and interconnected system that involves many different parties from regulators, municipalities, waste management firms, and you! But how many of us actually know how recycling got started, and how it transformed into the process that it is today?

Here’s a brief historical timeline of recycling and how it has changed over the years.

While recycling dates as far back as 1031 in Japan, most recycling before the 1900s, when fully synthetic plastic was created, handled materials like paper, metal, rubber, and other items that were useful enough to reuse. The widespread acceptance and practice of recycling in general experienced waves, primarily driven by necessity particularly in times of war. It actually wasn’t until the 1970s when recycling became an established and regulated industry and grew into what it is today.


With the plastic pollution crisis growing more and more over time, there’s an increased need for recycling on all fronts, whether it’s on the side of the consumer or the producer. The introduction of AB 793 is one of the first steps towards requiring manufacturers to be part of the solution, instead of placing the onus of recycling on the consumers and waste haulers, which is a promising development as we strive for improved recycling across the globe.



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