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Local Trash Companies

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Garbage collection and disposal are two of the earliest environmental issues faced by humankind. If there is one thing that anthropologists, archaeologists and historians can all agree on is that humans have always had an unfortunate tendency to be careless with trash; however, the work of local trash companies since the early 20th century has greatly improved the outlook of environmental conservation.

In the Americas, village dump sites and landfills have been discovered by archaeologists researching the Mayan civilization of Central America. The Mayans were initially wasteful but eventually realized that they were better off recycling as much as they could. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived, their cultures initially clashed with regards to trash disposal and collection practices.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, the Old World had its shares of problems with garbage around the 13th and 14th centuries; the garbage dumps around major cities such as Paris had grown to outsized proportions, which prompted the creation of municipal services that operated in a fashion similar to local trash companies.

Incineration and Recycling

Paper was one of earliest materials produced by means of recycling in the United States. In Philadelphia, a local mill operating in the late 17th century convinced local trash companies to sort their collected refuse in search of old paper and discarded hemp fiber from clothing and rags. This recycling operation required considerable time and labor and was not profitable for very long.

Incineration of trash started in earnest at Governor’s Island in New York City, but this original trash burning site would later be relocated when the noxious fumes and smells wafted over to Lower Manhattan. The island would later become a military base, a country club, a golf course, and a tourist spot.

Garbage Collection and the Law

Solid waste management laws for the U.S. went into effect in 1965, thereby allowing the organization of local trash companies that could provide environmental services to municipalities. In the previous decades, some American cities found some success in garbage compacting and landfill operations to reclaim swampland for agricultural purposes; however, there were major concerns about disrupting swamp ecosystems without taking into consideration environmental impact studies.

In 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started operating as part of the inaugural celebrations of Earth Day. Since then, local trash companies have been at the forefront of the recycling and trash minimization efforts. In other words, humankind has come to the conclusion that efficient garbage collection and disposal must start at the local level.