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Check out our informative articles below!

 

We've Come a Long Way in Waste

We're so caught up in the future of our industry, we tend to forget that the topic of waste management has concerned mankind for thousands of years. It is possible that even prehistoric man took measures to separate waste disposal from daily life.

Even the Ancients Worried About Waste and Its Disposal

When the Pharoahs decided to build the Pyramids, they established villages to house the workers. Because these projects took years to complete, generations were expected to live and die within the walls of these villages.

A key aspect of the village was waste disposal. Archaeologists are able to tell us that the waste area was generally located to the southwest of the village, where an incline would carry the waste downhill and away from the village.

In the Rome of Christ's day, the government built tunnels to drain the marshes around the city and carry away the waste into the Tiber River. Of course, the pollution of the river was always a concern after that.

The Dark Ages - Dark and Smelly

In London, where narrow streets and overpopulation made life suffocating, to say the least, the town council tried a number of ways to manage waste. They required residents to clean the street in front of their buildings and charged fines for failure to do so.

In what might be considered the first garbage vehicles, the council hired "rakers" to gather whatever garbage remained and cart it to dung boats located on the Thames River. No doubt, some of the dung found its way into the river, as well.

One of the major reforms of the reign of King Edward I(1271-1307) was the installation of pipes to carry off human waste.

Renaissance Waste

Venice during the Renaissance was the model of everything modern, from government to art. The town council established a bureau of public sanitation in 1385 to provide clean drinking water and prevent swamps. And this was before we knew that the presence of swamps contributed to disease outbreaks.

The city also had the first known municipal commission of public health, responsible for testing food and drugs offered for public sale.

Smog Did Not Originate in the 20th Century

By 1661, air pollution caused by the burning of coal was such a problem in London that the King requested John Evelyn to develop a plan for dissipating the cloud which hung over the city.

Evelyn's plan was defeated by Parliament, because the legislative body consisted of rich industrialists who were not interested in changing their fuel habits. Thirteen years later, physician Sir Thomas Browne warned that inhaling this smoke was sure to cause longterm health problems for London's citizens.

Improvement, Slow But Steady

By the mid-eighteenth century, most homes in London had running water, and every ward(section) of the city had a scavenger to organize the collection of waste. While some localities enjoyed the luxury of sewers, London did not have a general sewage system until 1865.

American Civil War - Return to the Dark Ages of Waste Management

During the Civil War in America, the Union army had a whole list of health requirements, including the careful placement and use of latrines and garbage pits with daily applications of earth and chloride of lime.

The troops, and many of the officers, simply ignored the list. This meant that garbage often rotted where it fell, leading to the inevitable smells and disease.

Better Than Ever...Or Are We?

Most industry experts predict that one day every molecule of waste we generate will be recycled into a different, useful product. While scientific advancements offer us this window into a new reality, we still must deal with waste management, day in and day our, year in and year out.

 


 

 

 

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