A green dumpster sitting in front of a house

The Origin of the Dumpster

The dumpster is a common utility container all around the world. Dumpsters are so commonplace in everyday life that you may have never stopped to think about where they came from. Prior to their invention, waste disposal was a significant hindrance to public health in areas of high population. The dumpster helped solve sanitation issues that many cities faced in the early 20th century by making waste disposal more efficient and less labor-intensive. 

Here’s a look at the origin of the dumpster. 

George Dempster

The story of the dumpster starts with George Dempster in the 1930’s. Dempster owned a construction business with his brothers in Knoxville, Tennessee. His experience with the logistics of transporting waste in the construction business sparked the idea for the dumpster, which he eventually created and patented in 1935.  

Dempster’s design initially involved a pulley system that was mounted to a motorized truck. Containers were raised by pins welded to their sides, and then transported and emptied through a hinged door. Dempster first used this system for his construction business to handle waste. However, as sanitation issues became more and more significant in cities, the Dempster dumpster became a widespread solution. 

The Dumpster as a Sanitation Solution

Prior to the dumpster, waste collection and removal was extremely inefficient. Garbage and debris (particularly in cities) regularly piled up along streets and on sidewalks. Cities required a lot of labor to mitigate this public health hazard. While waste could be hauled away by carriage, and later by the Model T Ford, this still involved a lot of manual labor. Workers had to load and unload garbage by hand. 

The Dempster dumpster allowed sanitary, enclosed storage for waste near places of business and residence, and made it easy to remove waste and return the container quickly. Crucially, the technology reduced the amount of hands-on labor required for sanitation. A single person could now pick up and handle waste collection with a dumpster. In 1937, Nashville, Tennessee became the first city to purchase the dumpster, becoming an early adopter of a technology that is now everywhere. 

Later models of the dumpster evolved for greater efficiency. Dempster improved the initial model by adding hydraulic lifting with chains and pivot arms, outstripping the lifting power of the old model’s cables and pulleys. Post-World War II, Dempster went on to design a single-axle end-dumping container with ten cubic yards of volume. This design, called the Dempster Kolector, allowed trucks to haul the containers behind them for quick collection, emptying, and delivery.  

Dempster created technology related to dumpsters as well. In the 1950’s, Dempster’s company created the Dempster-Dumpmaster, an early model for what we now know as the garbage truck. The front-loading design allowed truck drivers to empty multiple dumpsters in one trip without ever leaving their seats. 

Modern Dumpster Technology

It’s safe to say that Dempster’s inventions have played a huge role in shaping waste collection and sanitation as we know them today. Dumpster designs have changed over the years and there are numerous options on the market. 

Companies like Moon Dumpsters now offer dumpsters ranging from 6 to 40 cubic yards, and roll-off dumpsters and other designs are now common. Moon also makes sure that waste disposal is as environmentally-friendly as possible, with efficient trucks and green disposal practices. To learn more about Moon’s full-service dumpster rentals and get the dumpsters you need, visit our website or call us at 502-414-8028 today!