I think recycling has been around since man started building anything! Even back in ancient times people reused bricks from broken houses or melted down metal from old swords to forge new swords. In fact they probably recycling pretty much everything because it was difficult to come by good materials.
It was only after the industrial revolution that we started to get an abundance of stuff and so could afford to just throw it away because it was just easier to buy a new one than try and reuse the old one. That waste then went on for a long time and still goes on today. I think it was probably around the 60s/70s that some people really started to sit up and take notice of the damage we were causing the world, the amount of waste we were producing and the diminishing resources we had! It wouldnt have been one person though.