I was doing some research on early solid waste practices in the US, and came across an interesting nugget at a Penn State website.  It’s a powerpoint presentation (here), on “A History of Solid Waste Management in Pa.,” and it seems that in

1776:  Patriots recycle King George’s statue to mold bullets for Revolutionary War needs

As you see, the US was founded upon a strong recycling basis!

There’s a more detailed account  here, by the Aaron Burr Association.  Some excerpts:

At the tip of Manhattan and the southern point on Broadway lies the area we still today call Bowling Green. Perhaps many of you are familiar with the subway station there. A huge statue in the likeness of King George III on horseback was erected there on the Green. He was wearing the clothing of the Romans. The huge statue was set upon a marble base. It was made out of lead, the same material used to make ammunition, and painted with gold. A solid iron fence surrounded it.

George Washington gathered his troops and declared “the United Colonies of America were free and independent states”. With this, Patriots tore down the statue of King George III, and cut off its head. Two tons of lead were then sent to Litchfield, CT

Ron Chernow tells us “One wit predicted that the king’s soldiers ‘will probably have melted majesty fired at them.’ ” As they did indeed!