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For thousands of years now, refuse, e.g., bones and broken pottery, has been buried in the ground. People probably remembered the Plague, rampant all over Europe in the 14th century, since then a more effective refuse disposal was provided for. Nevertheless, time and again epidemics still broke out and only from the 19th century onwards, was refuse disposed of by controlled burning. In the USA, the first refuse was even combed through and sorted by hand. Indeed, only during the 20th century did the idea, that refuse could be a valuable commodity, start to assert itself.

Mechanical sections were then added to the hand-sorting conveyers. From the beginning of the 20th century refuse collection was carried out in an orderly fashion, even though it was mostly buried (most likely isolated) in the ground. Slowly but surely, the resistance among the population grew, because the regions where the refuse was being disposed of, were not those where the refuse was being collected. For a long time, in this respect, one spoke of 'disorderly' disposal.

Now, as a rule, the health of the population is protected, not however, the directly used areas, nor in fact, the natural environment in the immediate vicinity. With the appearance of Dioxins, obviously from the refuse dumps, the problem of a very real danger to health once again, reared it's ugly head. In Germany e.g., there was a lively discussion going on concerning refuse, quite comparable to the present day discussions about the burden being placed on the climate and the energy-transition

The whole situation is aggravated by the calling into question of nuclear power, where the waste disposal poses almost the biggest problem. The frightening increase of allergies among the population could also be based on the refuse problems. Since the end of the last century, the solutions being tested are the avoidance, the recycling and the burning of refuse, all done after a painfully accurate sorting out of any toxic pollutants.

Although Germany hasn't yet quite managed the energy-transition, it seems to be a role model as far as the treatment of waste is concerned. Indeed, the separation of garbage is sometimes so intensively practised by us, that other European countries are pulling our legs in cabaret shows! Originating in 1975, a whole battery of laws and regulations, all dealing with the disposal, or more precisely, the recycling of waste, have been placed on us.

In Germany, we are already paying for the later treatment of a number of consumer products. In addition, the mandatory deposit has distinctly lowered the effort spent on packaging, not only in the case of returnable glass bottles. There is however, consternation about the enormous amount of transportation required, e.g., to freight the used PET-bottles to China. The idea that refuse is actually an important raw material source, would probably find a great deal more acceptance if more processing was carried out locally. 12/12