John Timmer, reporting for Ars Technica:
So how did we get from Boy Scout pickups to multimillion dollar facilities that handle 15,000 tons of materials per month? Like recycling itself, it’s a complicated story, one driven by false starts and historic accidents. And that’s in part because recycling is hard, a process driven by lots of critical forces that push in opposite directions.
I’ve lived through many stages of recycling’s evolution—I still remember when we had to bag our newspapers, and my dad used to buy beer in returnable bottles—but I’ve never considered the entire timeline. Short of a book on the topic, this is the best overview out there.