The production of waste material (or trash) is an unavoidable aspect of virtually all facets of life. And so, since the earliest days of The Land, people have been faced with the necessity of finding ways of disposing of their trash. The earliest type of trash was the unusable portions of various food products, derived from plants and animals, as well as any food products which spoiled if left unused for too long. The most common method for disposing of such products was to simply dump them in compost piles, which would over time decompose to a point where the compost could be used as fertilizer in gardens. Animal bones have also been used for producing certain tools.
Another of the earliest methods of waste disposal is to bury trash. Since time immemorial, communities have set aside tracts of land, called landfills, where everyone would bring their trash to dump it. After enough trash had been deposited, it would be covered over, mostly with dirt. This remains, ultimately, the most common method of disposal of virtually all kinds of waste material. However, at some point in the first century, it also became common practice to burn (or incinerate) trash, in order to reduce its volume, prior to dumping it in landfills. It has also long been a common practice to dump certain liquid and paper waste materials into cesspits or sewers.
Not all trash is incinerated or buried; whenever possible, certain types of trash may be recycled. In a sense, compost piles might be considered the earliest form of recycling, though the term has come to be more commonly applied to more complicated methods of reusing other types of waste. For example, scrap metal may be resold to smiths to be melted down and reforged into new products. Used (or broken) glass may be resold to glassmiths to make new glass products. Fabrics which have been used beyond repair may come to be used as rags, or they may be resold to pulp or paper mills. Wood which is beyond reuse may also be resold to pulp mills.
In the earliest days of landfills, it was most common for individuals to bring their own trash to dumps, and to incinerate it themselves, though the eventual filling in was most often a community effort. However, in LY 400, citizens of Ship voted to establish a a new position called waste manager, to be paid by the public fund. The job would entail collecting trash from both homes and businesses, to transport to the local landfill. There, the waste manager would separate the waste into different types (if those who generated the trash didn't do so themselves), including trash to be incinerated and trash to be recycled, as well as any trash which must be disposed of in some other way (which might include special provisions for hazardous materials). The waste manager would then incinerate the appropriate portion of trash, bury that which needed burying, and deal with anything as as deemed appropriate. He or she would also deliver recyclables to the appropriate people for resale (as mentioned earlier). They would be given receipts for these transactions, and if redemption resulted in any income above and beyond the waste manager's agreed salary, the surplus would be added to the public fund. Knowledge of this position would eventually be spread to other villages by traders and transporters, and the position of waste manager gradually came to be adopted by every village on the Land.