Our Throw Away Junk Society - The Popularity of Removal Services

A waste management service actively collects, transports, processes, or disposes of waste materials. Waste management usually refers to the waste materials produced by humans, and the process undertaken by those services to reduce their overall effect on human health and the environment. Waste management also focuses on resource recovery by delaying the consumption rate of natural resources. Waste management services generally processes solid, liquid, gaseous, and radioactive materials. The scope of waste management services expands into developed and developing nations, especially in urban and suburban areas. In fact, many local government authorities manage non-hazardous waste materials in metropolitan areas. The generator of commercial and industrial waste usually processes their own materials under strict local, national, and international regulations.

Historically, humans did not need waste management services due to low population density. As populations began to grow, the accumulation of waste started to have significant impacts on human health. In addition, people started to notice a dwindling of natural resources. Common waste materials produced by humans before the Industrial Age was mainly ash and biodegradable waste, which released into the ground with minimal environmental damages. Before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, people would reuse wood for various purposes. The Mayans constructed dumps, whereby they would occasionally burn the waste materials within them. They also recycled waste materials to lessen the accumulation of waste materials in these dumps. This serves as a prime example that earlier humans utilized waste reduction techniques in the past. However, the Industrial Revolution necessitated the need for waste management services because of the increase in population and migration of people to industrialized cities from rural areas during the Eighteenth century. Before this time, people were used to throwing out their biodegradable waste out of their windows and into the streets. This caused the rise of deadly diseases, such as the Bubonic plague, cholera, and the typhoid fever. The neglect in properly disposing of waste materials led to rapid deterioration of living conditions exasperated by filth harbored by vermin, and a contaminated water supply. This prompted society to devise strategies to bring about change.

Between 1700 and 1900, humans experimented with various waste disposal methods. These methods included everything from saving dog feces to incinerating waste materials in burn plants. Production plants left behind used materials, which attracted collection scavengers looking to make an extra buck. In England, Toshers, Dustmen, and Mudlarks were nicknames given to these scavengers, because they would do all of the dirty work for a profit. The government responded by creating the Public Health Act of 1875, which gave authority for cleanup of accumulated waste. This inevitably led to the construction of the first movable trash receptacle. In 1775, Ben Franklin started the first service to dig pits and dispose of waste material. In 1885, the United States built its first garbage incinerator on Governor Island. New York also developed the world's first comprehensive waste management system.

Between 1900 and 1920, people dumped their waste materials at the most convenient location. People would dump their waste materials into the ocean, lakes, wetlands, or any other natural setting far away from the city. The United States did not regulate the dumping of waste materials until 1934, when the Supreme Court banned the dumping of municipal waste into the ocean. Incinerators also grew in popularity before this time, which also prompted the introduction of the Clean Air Act in 1956. Since people could no longer burn their ashes, quantities of paper, packaging and food started to accumulate. This gave birth to the National Association of Waste Contractors during the 1960s, which served to collect and haul private waste from residential homes. In 1965, the United States government passed the Solid Waste Disposal Act, which authorized research on resource recovery, on-site inventory, and landfill research. Around this time, waste management developed the concept of the “transfer station” to help manage waste in larger cities. In 1976, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act created a plan for recycling, conservation, and management. As a result, many states started offering buy-back, pay-per-can, and newspaper recycling programs. Near the end of the 1980s, the Environmental Protection Agency devised a goal to reduce waste by 25 percent.

After the world managed the dangers of hazardous waste, it started to focus on improving waste management technologies. During the 1990s, many companies enhanced waste management trucks with hydraulics, increased engine power, and safety features. In 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency set standards to regulate landfills to protect the water supply. In 1994, President Clinton signed an executive order that obligated federal agencies to buy recycled products. In 2000, more than five thousand U.S. cities incorporated recycling programs to reduce waste disposal in their municipality. Today, local governments have devised strategies to improve the recycling to waste disposal ratio.

As society continues its shift towards more sustainable waste management methods, the environment will continue to reap the positive rewards. Unfortunately, the rate of waste disposal over the years has already had a significant impact on our environment. This does not mean that society can not convert their efforts into using recycled and reusable materials to build and repair existing structures and innovations. Continued efforts to use clean and renewable energy, including the proper disposal of waste materials will improve our environmental conditions. This continued trend will also have a lasting effect on our society, which trickles down to the overall betterment in our daily lives.


The History of Garbage Collection

A webpage that describes the history of garbage collection and existing waste disposal services.

History of Solid Waste Management

Environmentalists Every Day describes the history of solid waste management starting from ancient history to modern times.

The Importance of Recycling

NSF International describes how recycling lessens the accumulation in the nation's landfills and incinerator plants. In addition, it describes how recycling conserves the world's natural resources, such as timber, water, and minerals.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes how people and corporations can contribute towards overall waste reduction.

History of Waste

The Product Policy Institute describes the history of waste materials and how we can decrease the throwaway habits of our society.

A Garbage Timeline

A timeline that covers the relationship of America and garbage.

Waste Management, Processing, and Detoxification (PDF)

An extensive document that describes the overall process of waste management, disposal, and detoxification.

The End of a Throwaway Society

An editorial describing the consequences and environmental impact of a throwaway society and the benefits of ending it.

Throw Away Society: Quiz

A resource intended to test the knowledge of a taker's understanding of the throwaway society.

Beyond the Throwaway Society (PDF)

A proposed solution to regulating municipal waste management services.