In ancient cities, wastes were thrown onto unpaved streets and roadways, where they were left to accumulate. It was not until 320 BCE in Athens that the first known law forbidding this practice was established. At that time a system for waste removal began to evolve in Greece and in the Greek-dominated cities of the eastern Mediterranean. In ancient Rome, property owners were responsible for cleaning the streets fronting their property. But organized waste collection was associated only with state-sponsored events such as parades. Disposal methods were very crude, involving open pits located just outside the city walls. As populations increased, efforts were made to transport waste farther out from the cities. After the fall of Rome, waste collection and municipal sanitation began a decline that lasted throughout the Middle Ages. Near the end of the 14th century, scavengers were given the task of carting waste to dumps outside city walls. But this was not the case in smaller towns, where most people still threw waste into the streets. It was not until 1714 that every city in England was required to have an official scavenger. Toward the end of the 18th century in America, municipal collection of garbage was begun in Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. Waste disposal methods were still very crude, however. Garbage collected in Philadelphia, for example, was simply dumped into the Delaware River downstream from the city. During the industrial revolution, recyclers began to form businesses and later trade associations, dealing in the collection, trade and processing of metals and paper. America's Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), a trade association with more than 1,400 member companies, traces its roots back to one such organisation founded in 1913. In the 1930s many people survived the Great Depression by peddling scraps of metal, rags and other items. In those days reuse and recycling were often economic necessities As industrial...
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