Keywords: conservation, efficiency, reuse, corporate recycling, scrap, waste recovery, waste streams, World War II, industrial ecology
The 'New Industrial Philosophy': US corporate recycling in World War II
This analysis of the history of corporate recycling in the USA during World War II emphasises the extent to which business has historically led in efforts to recover and reuse waste materials. It begins by establishing that prior to World War II large corporations had developed considerable expertise in recycling. The paper then covers wartime business-led efforts. The first, efforts to reclaim consumer materials for the production process, were highly visible. The second, initiatives to recycle waste generated by industry, were less visible but even more significant. Within a cultural framework defined by patriotism and an economic framework defined by scarcity, this study finds, corporate recycling efforts succeeded to an extent not to be equalled until after the advent of the environmental movement. It concludes that business will have to take a leading role in future recycling efforts, whether in the name of efficiency or environmentalism.