In Zonesafe News

Recycle week is upon us! This week is National Recycle Week. Organised by Recycle Now, which is managed by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), and is now in its 17th year. The week runs from 23-29 September.

How much do we know about recycling?

We have known how to recycle for a long time.

It started with waste collection.

In 500 B.C, Athens organised the first municipal dump in the western world. This was because local laws dictated that waste must be disposed of at least ONE MILE away from the city walls. The city therefore created a site in which all waste was sent.

Recycling started early.

It has been recorded that Japan began the first ever reuse of waste paper. In 1031 all documents and paper were recycled and re-pulped into new paper and sold in local shops across the country. In 1690 the recycled paper manufacturing process was introduced. The Rittenhouse Mill, near Philadelphia made paper from fiber, derived from recycled cotton and linen rags.

England starts to recycle

In 1865, the Salvation Army was founded in London. They began to collect, sort and recycle unwanted goods. The ‘Household Salvage Brigade’ employed the poor to recover discarded materials. The organisation, with its programme, migrated to the Unites States in the 1890s. In 1897, New York City created a materials recovery facility, where ‘trash’ was sorted at ‘picking yards’ and separated into various grades of paper, metals and carpet. Burlap bags (made from hessian), twine, rubber and horse hair were sorted for recycling and reuse.

Victorian recycling

In the 1900s, ‘waste as wealth’ was a phrase that was coined worldwide, to show people just how beneficial recycling could be – and to help spread information about recycling. Aluminium recycling was first introduced in 1904, with can aluminium can recycling plants in Chicago and Cleveland, in the US.

War means recycle

WW1 took place during 1916 – 1918, and because there was a shortage in raw materials, the importance of recycling was heightened – especially as the army needed to be provided with weapons. The motto ‘Don’t waste it – save it’ was therefore introduced to encourage others to recycle. This happened again in the Second World War, as there was a great need for the materials to be recycled again, in order to create weapons.

A revolution in recycling material

In 1964, the all-aluminium can was introduced. The small step of recognising the value of used aluminium cans as a raw material for making new cans meant that the industry would soon create a huge system for recycling and redeeming used drinks containers. A HUGE step to recycle!

Official recycle symbol

The ‘Mobius Loop’ – or the internationally recognised symbol for recycling, was introduced between 1965 and 1970. The three arrows in a triangle shape was designed by Gary Anderson, after a Chicago-based recycling container company sponsored an art contest to design a symbol for environmental awareness. This is the symbol on the top right if this article.

Earth Day begins

In 1970, the first Earth Day was introduced. This was to bring national attention to the problem of increasing waste and the importance pf recycling. Earth day is supported by over 192 countries on April 22nd. Every year many people take part in annual Earth Day celebrations to promote conserving our environment by protecting, recycling and innovating.

Waste and damage to the environment

While there was significant progress in waste and recycling, research has since shown that there was a link to global warming and waste. It had been proven that through reducing the amount of rubbish we throw out and by recycling more, we can cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The future of recycling

Recycling now occurs in all developed countries, from private homes, to public institutions and businesses. Mainly targeted are paper, glass, metal and plastic – although also common to recycle is textiles and electronics. Campaigns for increased emphasis on recycling are very frequent and fully supported by the mass media. It has not only become a growing trend worldwide, but has also introduced an entire industry, with ranges of products, recycle bins, publications, television programmes, posters etc.

Enter WRAP

WRAP (Waste and Resources Action programme) was set up to promote sustainable waste management in 2000. WRAP works with governments, businesses and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency.

Recycle Week grows

WRAP says: In 2018, people were motivated to care about plastics in a way they never have before.

Sustainability is firmly on the national agenda and the public is looking to organisations to help solve major environmental issues. That makes Recycle Week a greater opportunity than ever to change people’s recycling behaviours while gaining positive publicity and building your organisation’s reputation.

2018 was the year that Britain woke up to recycling. 2019 is the year we’re taking action.

Now in its 17th year, Recycle Week is a celebration of recycling, organised by WRAP under the Recycle Now brand. The aim of the week is to encourage the public to recycle more, by demonstrating the benefits of recycling items from all around the home.

This year’s theme will be: ‘Recycling. It’s in our own hands.’

Their inspiration

‘2019 is the year of the environmental activist. We’ve seen this through protests and marches. From Greta Thunberg to Our Planet and Sir David Attenborough – environmental concerns have never been so front of mind for the nation.

We want to capitalise on this as it’s a golden opportunity for us to inspire and support citizens to take action and make recycling the new norm.

Recycle Week 2019 will be full of action asking people to rinse, crush, squash, sort and separate. In the bathroom, the kitchen, the office and the great outdoors. Getting them to do something powerful and radical that will really make a difference.’

ZoneSafe and recycling

While we do recycle at our premises, we also work with recycling plants to keep their staff safe on site. Visit to find out more – and read about how we can improve safety culture in recycling here.


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