Believe it or not, the dumpster was a revolutionary idea when it was first invented in 1935.
As long as there have been people, there has also been waste. However, the European colonization of the Americas in the 15th century led to growing populations and a lot of waste that people would bury, pile up or burn.
By the early 1800s, cities had developed waste management systems to clean things up and improve public health. Those systems largely consisted of horse-drawn carts carrying garbage and human waste to sanctioned spots (or sometimes, to be dumped in rivers and other areas).
After the construction of the first sewer systems in the United States in the late 1850s in cities like Chicago and New York, along came pickup style trucks that would fill beds with trash and take loads to nearby dumping grounds. The 1920s brought covered trucks as well as mechanical bucket “hoppers” attached to the truck sides that would lift trash and dump it into the truck through an opening.
A New Solution: the Dumpster
For obvious reasons, there were problems with the trash collection methods described above—even though they were a vast improvement over pre-1800s methods. A larger, more efficient method was needed.
American businessman George Dempster agreed. He operated a construction company with his two brothers (called Dempster Brothers Construction Company) out of Knoxville, Tennessee. They built roads, small dams and railroads throughout Tennessee, North Carolina, George, Virginia and Kentucky. In 1935, the company created the Dempster Dumpster, which was the first large-scale waste container. The company patented this in 1937.
Attracting Interest Far and Wide
Dempster’s invention was originally a solution for the family construction business and used on their sites. The containers were mounted to motorized trucks for transportation to the local dump. But as America grew, cities had a growing need for better solutions for trash collection and dumping. Dempster Brothers Inc.’s timing was ideal, and interest in their Dumpsters grew fast and wide.
In the 1950s, Dempster introduced the Dempster Dumpmaster, which was the first front-loading garbage truck in the country. It lifted the Dempster Dumpster container over the cab to tip its contents into the hopper. It also had a compacting panel to compress garbage and push it through the back door when the dumpster was emptied at the landfill. This hydraulic lifting system made it so that one driver could pick up, empty and return containers. This was a huge savings of manpower.
Dempster Dumpsters All Around the World
Dempster Brothers Inc. got into producing pontoon boats and other equipment for the Navy during World War II. Eventually, Dempster Dumpsters were used all around the world, thanks in large part to contracts with the United States Navy. The company employed more than 450 people at its plant in Knoxville in the 1950s and was reported in 1952 to gross more than $6.5 million a year by Fortune Magazine.
George Dempster died in 1964 from a heart attack, but his legacy lived on long thereafter. Dempster Brothers sold to Carrier Corporation in 1970, then to Krug International in 1980. Krug closed the plant in 1987. Throughout his life, George held over 75 patents, but the one for which he is best known is the one that revolutionized solid waste collection.
Today, there are many dumpster rental services throughout northern New Jersey and all around the United States. Businesses and homeowners turn to All Trades Disposal serving Essex and Morris Counties for their roll-off dumpster needs due to our great customer service and fair prices. But now you know that we all have George Dempster to thank for such an important invention!