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The Timeline: Rubbish collection

3000 BC Ancient waste

The first recorded landfills were to be found in Knossos, Crete. Dating back to 3000 BC, they consisted of large pits covered in earth. In Athens, legislation governed the construction of municipal landfills.

1300s Britain cleans up

In 1297, legislation was passed obliging households to keep the front of their house clear from rubbish. The law was largely ignored. By the mid-1300s "rakers" were being employed in London to remove waste.

1800s Industrial revolution

With the Industrial Revolution, Britain's waste problem grew. Increased production prompted increased waste; the practice of raiding other people's rubbish for sellable items becomes popular.

1848 Regulation and removal

The Public Health Act of 1848 began waste regulation, while a second act in 1875 put an end to scavenging. Households were obliged to store their waste in "a movable receptacle". The modern dustbin was born.

Postwar landfills

In the postwar period, landfills came to be favoured over incineration. The Clean Air Act reduced numbers of household fires; fewer families burn their waste, leading to an increase in the volume of rubbish to be removed.

1970s Recycling and revolt

Friends of the Earth launched its first campaign, returning thousands of bottles to Schweppes to highlight the amount of glass wastage in the UK.

1990s Greener government

In 1996, the Government published Making Waste Work, outlining its waste strategy and committing to the target of 25 per cent of household waste to be recycled by 2000.

2000s: Wheelie wobblies

Wheelie bins are introduced by councils in anticipation of planned pay-as-you-throw schemes. Equipped with microchips and able to weigh the amount of waste users create, they become a source of contention.

2011: Winter of discontent

Over the 2010-2011 Christmas period, a combination of freezing weather, industrial action and public holidays leaves streets piled high with uncollected rubbish.