Humans were smart enough to recycle 13,000 years ago, according to new research.

A archaeological study by the Catalan Institute of Human Palaeoecology and Social Evolution has revealed that prehistoric humans used to recycle stone artefacts for other uses.

The group of archaeologists came to their conclusion after discovering a high percentage of burnt remains dating back to the upper Palaeolithic Age, long before the invention of recycle bins.

In an interview with treehugger.com, researcher Manuel Vaquero explained how they were able to tell that these tools had been modified by those that used them.

He said: “In order to identify the recycling, it is necessary to differentiate the two stages of the manipulation sequence of an object; the moment before it is altered and the moment after. The two are separated by an interval in which the artefact has undergone some form of alteration.”

It is thought the motives for recycling extended beyond protecting the environment. According to health24.com, it is thought that prehistoric humans recycled because they were keen not to have move far from their camp in order to find raw materials for their tools.

“It bears economic importance too, since it would have increased the availability of lithic resources, especially during times of scarcity,” concluded Vaquero.

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