Waste, money, and time: Towards a business history of waste management in the UK and West Germany, 1945-1990



Municipal waste collection in Britain and West Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War was usually carried out by the public sector, as it had been in both countries since the urban public health reforms of the second half of the 19th century. There were, however, exceptions to this, and the number of exceptions grew over time. Moreover, in municipal waste disposal, including landfilling, incineration, and “salvage” (which we now call recycling), the role of the private sector was prominent in both countries throughout the post-war period.

One of the key themes this paper examines is the evolving relationship between the private and the public sector during the four and a half decades following the end of the war, as waste collection and disposal in these two countries moved from “public cleansing” to “waste management”. It also compares and contrasts developments in this sector in the UK with those in Germany during the period.
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The Business History Seminar has been made possible by financial support from the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM) and the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication. 
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Marten Boon