The history of waste management
In the Middle Ages (from 476 to 1453)
Around the year 1000, men began to regroup in cities. The inhabitants throw their waste, excrement, animal carcasses on the street or in rivers. The bourgeois residences in large cities (Munich, Lyon, Paris, etc.) are certainly equipped with latrines, but their pipes lead directly into the streets!
The streets are then muddy, dirty and smelly, rats spread there. Live pigs and dogs roaming freely in the street clean the city by eating garbage, vagrants “treat” also part of this waste.
People even walk with clogs with high heels, so as not to get our feet dirty! In Paris it is the time of epidemics. No longer able to bear the smell, Philippe Auguste orders in 1184 to pave the main streets and creates central canals and ditches for cleaning certain areas. Four hundred years later, only half the streets are paved.
In all the neighborhoods, wells are created where everyone must dump their rubbish and in 1343, Charles V built covered evacuation ditches to avoid the odors. The garbage is therefore stored in eccentric places or reserved public places, it is certainly a change … but it is limited: they moved the problem without solving it …
But despite this, people most often refuse to take garbage to the expected places, they continue to pollute the rivers which serve as a garbage chute and throw their domestic waste in the streets, resulting in bacterial infiltration into the soil and causes epidemics of plague, cholera and typhus.
In Europe, the most important epidemic was the Black Plague of 1347 which made 25 million deaths. At that time, the locals think it’s the smell of garbage that makes people sick and unaware even though this garbage is teeming with bacteria …
Junk collection in modern times
In the 1960s, global consumption exploded: waste was therefore multiplied by 10 with the chemical industry and new materials, especially plastics.
Since then, we have entered the era of disposable items (pens, razors, batteries, etc.) and of ready-made consumables: fast food, wipes, packaged ready meals, pre-cooked vegetables. All this packaging has led to the doubling of household waste.
Social changes partly explained the increase in waste: single homes like the number of servings and individual packages jumped!
For a long time now, manufacturers have been seeking to reduce the weight of packaging. So, the weight of an empty polystyrene yogurt pot was halved between 1970 and 1990.
Since 1998, a decree stipulates that the weight and volume of a package must be limited to the minimum necessary while ensuring all of its functions.
Junk Removal in the United States
But all this packaging continues to fills our garbage cans to the brink!
The situation is particularly dire in the USA, where each American person throws around 120 kg of household packaging every year.
There is so much waste that dumpsters large and small are a regular sight in the big cities as well as the smaller ones. Landfills are getting full and recycling is not widespread enough to allow to a better usage of resources.
There is even a thriving industry of dumpster rental services, where people can rent a large bin when they have too much junk accumulated on their premises. The company will bring an empty roll-off dumpster and the customer fills it themselves with all their junk. One full they call the waste management company, which will bring it to the nearest landfill.