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[GreenYes] Re: First Curbside Program

Hmmm. I wrote on this subject years ago for Recycling Today in the early
?90s and I recall after my article came out folks from NJ calling me up and
laying claim to being the ones who developed the first citywide programs in
a few townships around 1970 (Clinton? Perhaps). I also recall folks from
Berkeley making a case for their program from the 60s that once drove around
neighborhoods with a trailer on the back of a pickup...or something. I don¹t
think the Berkeley program was citywide though.

However, subsequent research into a number of old civil engineering texts
and an article in WasteAge from 1995 by Randy Woods and Charles Peterson
unearthed the fact that in the ?40s during WWII The Tin Can Salvage Program
was the first program to foster residential collection, and this spread
nationwide. Essentially garbage collectors had a special way of segregating
cans from the rest of trash. In San Francisco, the members of the Scavenger
Protective Association (which became Norcal) volunteered to drive around on
Sundays picking up tin cans. Among other things, waste paper and textiles
soon followed. These programs were so successful that the fiber markets
became glutted in some part of the country (sound familiar?). According to
Woods and Peterson, however, in 1944 NYC¹s streets department got into the
act and had a separate paper recovery in place until the end of the war.

I would also note that in Philadelphia, according to Roger Raufer who wrote
the excellent book Pollution Markets in a Green Country Town, pig farmers
and rag pickers went house to house and village to village in the area
beginning in the early 1700s looking for food scraps and old fabric. In some
cases people kept it for them, but in many cases, especially in Philly
proper, all they had to do was walk along the streets and pick up the
garbage that people just dumped there. Ah, Philly!

In India and Egypt, of course, there are castes and tribes of people who for
millenia have gone door to door and/or just waited at garbage dumps for
whatever they can find that¹s valuable. Night soil collectors were also
common in Asian cultures for several thousand years until around the
beginning of the 20th century.

David Biddle, Executive Director

P.O. Box 4037
Philadelphia, PA 19118
215-432-8225 (mobile)


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on 11/16/05 2:37 AM, Susan Kinsella at susan@no.address wrote:

> Can anybody tell me which city started the first curbside recycling program
> in the U.S. and Canada? I've heard of several contenders for the honor.
> Probably there were several that started around the same time. But I wonder
> whether it's possible to point to one as the first.
> Thanks,
> Susan

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