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The history of rubbish removal in Glasgow

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Glasgow’s long and fascinating history of rubbish removal is intertwined with the city’s incredible population growth and industrialisation. From the Middle Ages, when rubbish was simply disposed of in the streets and alleyways, to the development of the Glasgow Corporation’s Waste Department in the 19th century, the city’s approach to waste management has evolved significantly. This evolution has been driven by the need to meet the ever-increasing demand for efficient and hygienic rubbish removal services as Glasgow’s population has grown and the city’s industry has flourished. From the early days of using horse-drawn carts to collect waste, to the introduction of automated trucks and complex recycling systems, this article will explore the history of rubbish removal in Glasgow and its profound impact on the city.

The earliest days of rubbish removal in Glasgow

The earliest documents about rubbish removal in Glasgow date back to the 13th century. They describe the city’s regulations for collecting household waste and disposing of it outside the city walls. Apparently, the main reason for such strict rules was the risk of diseases spreading in the city as a result of people disposing of their waste in the streets and alleyways. However, it seems that the regulations were not very effective in practice, as regular outbreaks of diseases, such as the Plague, broke out several times in the city. The first attempts to manage household waste in Glasgow date back to the late Middle Ages. They include the creation of the common tip, which functioned as a rubbish dump outside the city walls. The residents of Glasgow were obliged to take their household waste to the tip and leave it there for others to dispose of. The city’s authorities also tried to solve the problem of the increasing amount of waste by introducing the so-called “scavengers”, who were responsible for collecting rubbish and taking it outside the city walls. This approach was obviously ineffective and the amount of trash in the city continued to grow.

The development of the Glasgow Corporation’s Waste Department

The first step towards more hygienic methods of rubbish removal in Glasgow was the creation of the city’s Waste Department in the early 19th century. This department was responsible for disposing of all the waste in Glasgow and maintaining the city’s sanitation services. It is widely believed that the first refuse carts to collect waste in Glasgow were horse-drawn. After the introduction of the first mechanised vehicles for rubbish collection, the city’s sanitation services became more efficient. However, the Waste Department’s functions were limited to collecting waste from households, and it did not deal with industrial waste. It was the growing industrialisation of Glasgow in the late 19th century that led to a significant increase in the amount of commercial waste, which was simply dumped into the River Clyde and other water bodies. This situation ultimately led to the creation of the Glasgow Corporation’s Department of Technical Services, which was in charge of the city’s waste management.

The rise of automated vehicles for waste collection

The first attempts to introduce automated vehicles for waste collection were made in the 1930s. However, they were not very successful, as the technology was new and the vehicles had a number of technical issues. The situation changed in the 1960s, when the increasing amount of waste made the city authorities look for a more effective way of collecting it. The first automated vehicles for rubbish collection in Glasgow appeared in 1964. They were operated by Mechanical Handling Systems. However, the automated vehicles were not very successful, as they did not satisfy the city’s authorities. The main problem was that they could not collect the waste from the back alleys and streets, as they were not equipped with a cab at the back.

The current state of rubbish removal in Glasgow

Nowadays, the city’s residents are provided with efficient and reliable rubbish removal services. In addition to the waste collection, the Glasgow City Council’s Waste Department also collects bulky items, offers gardening services, and organises cleaning events. The Waste Department’s operators are equipped with modern automatic trucks, which are able to collect the waste from the back alleys and streets. They use special containers with doors on both sides that allow the operators to collect waste from both the front and the back of each house. The department also provides a special bulky waste collection service, which allows the residents to dispose of large items, such as furniture, appliances, and other items for which there is no space in the normal collection schedule.

The impact of rubbish removal on the city

The history of rubbish removal in Glasgow shows that the city’s authorities have always relied on it to keep it clean and healthy. It is obvious that the methods of collecting waste have changed significantly since the Middle Ages. The most significant impact of rubbish removal on the city is the fact that it allows the authorities to control and regulate the amount of waste produced in Glasgow. The waste collection service allows them to divert the waste from various sources to the appropriate disposal sites, which ultimately helps to reduce the amount of waste dumped in the city’s landfills. The history of rubbish removal in Glasgow also shows that it is closely linked to the city’s development. It has evolved alongside the growth of the city’s population and its transformation from a medieval town to a modern metropolis.

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