History of Recycling

Recycling may seem like a modern concept, but its history extends back centuries. One of the earliest instances of recycling stems all the way back to 1031, where the Japanese would recycle old paper by repulping it to create new pieces. Over the following millennium, recycling became a key strategy for countries all over the world as they battled to preserve resources and combat climate change.

Read this article to take a journey through time as we explore the history of recycling in the world.


Innovations in paper recycling continued 800 years later in England when English paper manufacturer, Matthias Koops, patented the procedure to extract ink from paper and convert the inkless paper into pulp that could be used to create new paper. This was the first time high-quality recycled paper could be produced from waste paper and marked a historic milestone for recycling innovation.

And Koops wasn’t done there. In the same year, he published the world’s first book printed entirely on recycled paper.


In the pre-industrial age, it was common to salvage materials to melt and reuse. British ‘dustmen’ would gather ash and dust from fires and sell it to brick makers to reuse as raw materials. Though the word ‘recycling’ would not have been used at the time, the process was recycling in everything but name.

Post-WWII 1940s

Resources were scarce after WWII, and Britain launched a national campaign to collect tin, rubber, steel, paper and other materials  that could be conserved and reused. Over 400,000 people volunteered in the effort and recycled tens of thousands of tons of materials.


The post-war baby boom did more than just increase the population; it also increased the amount of waste that they generated.

While landfills were initially used to store the growing mountain of waste created by the population, it quickly became apparent that landfills wouldn’t be sufficient.

Instead, efforts once again returned to recycling. During these earlier periods, recycling focused mostly on paper, cardboard and glass. Nowadays, there are recycling facilities for just about any material.

21st Century

The 21st Century marked a drastic shift in attitudes towards recycling. Threats of climate change and environmental pollution have sparked a global emergency, with increasing recycling efforts employed as a key response. The UK has seen a surge in domestic and commercial recycling facilities over the past decade, and the amount of waste that is being recycled each year is constantly growing.

According to gov.uk, the UK produced 222.9 million tonnes of waste in 2016, of which 48.5% of which was recycled, almost twice as much as the 24.4% that was sent to landfill.

We all have a duty to continue improving our recycling efforts. And at Camiers, that starts right here.

Camiers is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in recycling. With our own dedicated recycling centre, we recycle, on average, around 90% of the waste we collect, diverting it from landfill and protecting our planet. Whether you’re a domestic or commercial customer in need of a clearout, use the services at Camiers to do your bit for the planet.

Contact Camiers today to find out how we can help you.