The Origin of the Dumpster

The Origin of the Waste 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 Waste 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 Waste 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.

Dempster’s innovations have significantly influenced the landscape of waste collection and sanitation, shaping them into the forms we recognize today. Dumpster designs have evolved over time, providing a myriad of options in the market.

Enterprises like Junk Queen TX have expanded their offerings to include dumpsters ranging from 15 to 40 cubic yards, incorporating popular choices like roll-off dumpsters and other diverse designs. Junk Queen TX prioritizes environmentally-conscious waste disposal, employing efficient trucks and adhering to green practices.

For comprehensive dumpster rentals and junk removal services, explore Junk Queen TX’s offerings. To acquire the dumpsters you require, visit our website or contact us at 469-909-7241 today! Visit our website or call us 469-909-7241 today!

Solid Waste Facilities – North Texas Municipal Water District (


The word dumpster didn’t even exist in the English language until November 1936, when George Dempster, the industrialist-inventor associated with a machinery company called Dempster Brothers, introduced them, just in time for the Christmas season. He placed four of them in the alley between Gay Street and Market Street, south of Union Avenue, where he knew holiday retail was about to get very busy.

It was, he said, an “experiment.” He wanted to prove the city could save time and money in trash pickup by putting out bigger garbage receptacles that could be picked up with a special truck. Naming them after himself, he called them Dempster Dumpsters.


They were much smaller than the dumpsters we know and love today, each one holding less than 40 cubic feet of trash, but they were much bigger than standard garbage cans and could be more easily moved no matter what was dumped into them. Those dumpsters in the alley, alongside what’s now Krutch Park, were the first four dumpsters in world history. They were very useful to Gay Street retailers, who pitched in to share the $75 bill for each of them. There would be more of them the following year, and soon they’d appear in nearly every alley.

Dempster, son of Scottish and Irish immigrants, had some experience with hauling large amounts of material; years earlier, he’d worked on building the Panama Canal. The 49-year-old businessman got some criticism in 1936 because he was, at the time, serving as Knoxville’s city manager, just then involved in establishing the modern new airport out on Alcoa Highway. Some thought it improper that he might profit from a Dumpster deal with the city.  Dempster protested he wasn’t trying to sell anybody anything. He just wanted to see if it would work. Knoxville liked him, regardless, and years later, elected him mayor.

Within weeks, the Dempster-Dumpster was a sensation among other municipalities, and representatives from Nashville, Louisville, and even Washington, D.C., came to downtown Knoxville to behold the wonderful new innovation. The deceptively simple idea caught on globally, and the Dempster Brothers company, with its factory on the north side of town, was there to meet the demand. Inevitably they got bigger, both in size and popularity.

Today, people around the world recognize the word “Dumpster” without realizing it’s named, sort of, after an enterprising fellow who became mayor of Knoxville.


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