Recycling waste in Europe

It would be easy to believe that selective sorting is a more or less recent process, but one would surely be mistaken. Waste recycling dates back to Prehistory. In fact, prehistoric people used to value part of their food waste, such as bones and ivory for example, which were used to make weapons or needles. At the same time, other remains used to be thrown into the ditches or into the wells, or simply remained in the shelters where people lived most of the time.

Much later, in 1884 and in Europe, precisely in France, the prefect of the Seine department, Eugene Poubelle, invented the trash (literally “poubelle” in french). It should be known that this invention, which seems to have always be a part of our daily life, already took selective sorting into account. In fact, it included three compulsory waste boxes: one for putrescible materials, one for papers and rags, and a last one for glass, earthenware and oyster shells. Unfortunately, the regulations were at this time barely respected, and it was not until nearly a century later and a year after the 1973 oil shocks, that selective sorting was actually set up.

Initially, the issues were limited to prevent contact between substances that could react chemically together, such as household fermentable wastes that may degrade other substances, like used batteries. Today, the stakes are both ecological and economic as much for the private individuals as for the companies. The latter must now comply with the obligations established by decree concerning the sorting of paper, metals, plastics, glass and wood. And for good reason, because companies produce an impressive number of waste every day, and the introduction of selective sorting and employee involvement lead to positive environmental consequences, but also allow companies to make some savings.