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association / and First Dempster Dumpsters are used on construction sites. They are open and allowed emptying through mechanical tipping. The engineering and technique were conceived by George Dempster while working as a shovel operator during the digging of the Panama Canal. He wanted an automatic way to empty his shovel during digging operations.

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Dempster patents his “transporting and dumping vehicle� in 1939. The original patent includes only an open container.

Urbanizing US has a garbage problem: it could be collected relatively well, but was typically stored in open containers. The growth of business and apartment buildings in cities generated large quantities of waste in densely populated areas. The era also saw a trend toward disposable packaging. Dempster innovates by creating a larger, fully enclosed container. The innovation means only one person is required to empty and return each container and costs collection cost by 50 percent. The enclosed containers excluded the elements as well as insects and rodents. Not to mention scavengers.


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“It was our input about the market in California and the local manufacturers that forced Dempster in to the lightweight market [...] It was nearly impossible to break in to the southern California market, as we had nothing to offer against the local builders.... we were too heavy and too pricey. ” – Brent Farlie, former Dempster Dumpster sales manager.

“We sold Route Kings to Golden Gate and Oakland Scavenger too. Roy Barbatti was the ace of aces selling to them all. It didn't hurt that he is Italian and speaks it. The Route King early on was a hell of a problem. The key component was the main valve hidden up top above the sweep packer head. It had tons of cartridges in it, and they had to operate in the exact right sequence or the units would not operate correctly. Roy kept cartridges in his car and would swap them out for companies on the fly. They eventually got that worked out, but it was a very big problem for quite awhile” – Brent Farlie, former Dempster Dumpster sales manager.

1976: introduction of the Route King II


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1976: introduction of the Route King II

Refuse and recyclable material collectors have the 7th highest fatal work injury rate of all occupations in the US in 2010. -US Bureau of Labor Statistics.Number of fatal work injuries, 1992–2010

Route King II introduces new safety feature: “Interrupted Cycle” to reduce risk of worker injury and death. Feature becomes a mandated industry standard.

“They were absolutely built like a battleship. I don't mean to criticize a groundbreaking design, it's just that we can see from these why the local hauler out here [California] went to a very basic, simple, locally-produced [California] unit.” - Scott Blake, former Western Waste worker.


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Dempster Inc was purchased by Wastequip from another company in 1990. Wastequip intorduced a new product line, the Recycle-Pac. The product help keep Dempster Inc going, but by 1995, the company was in trouble.

Dempster Inc, under its last owner Toccoa Metal Technologies, finally collapsed in 2003....

Photo by Nick Gruenberg: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nick_gr/4586937805/

References: Classic Refuse Trucks: http://www.classicrefusetrucks.com/ Google Patent search US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Number of Fatal Work Injuries, 1992-2010


The dumpster as a technological project.