The first garbage trucks were ordered by Chiswick District Council in 1887. They
were not much different from a regular dump truck. There were a number of issues with
the first iteration, such as drivers manually needing to lift the garbage to the truck. The
most noticeable issues were the fact that trash regularly fell out the back and the smell.
Before these, horse drawn wagons were the standard for waste removal. In 1914, these
early garbage trucks first made their way over to the United States.
In 1915, Mack introduced a new model of truck built specifically for waste
management. This new model featured roll down sides to help the operators get waste
over the rims of the waste bins on the back. Chain guards on the truck prevented refuse
from getting into any driving mechanisms.
Europe, due to having a denser population than the US, was immediately
concerned with the smell and the refuse falling onto the city streets. Covered garbage
trucks were initially introduced in Europe, and the innovation quickly made its way
around the world due to its advantages.
In 1929, the Heil Collector came out to solve the problem of manually loading
trash into the bin. This model featured a bucket that could be loaded with refuse then
lifted to the top of the truck to fill it through an opening. This was considered one of the
first standard garbage trucks, and it is what future garbage trucks are based on.
The Dempster-Dumpster and the Garwood Load Packer
The next big advancement to garbage trucks came about in 1937. George
Dempster created the Dempster-Dumpster system. George was aware of the manual
labor that went into waste collection, and sought to make a system to lighten the load on
the workers. The system included large bins (or dumpsters) that were lowered to the
ground mechanically and loaded by the workers. Then the dumpsters were
mechanically lifted up and back onto the truck. Overall, this cut the amount of labor
needed by 75%.
Around the same time in 1938, the Garwood Load Packer was created. This was
the first refuse truck that featured a packer. The packer was made possible thanks to
hydraulic presses, and doubled a garbage truck’s load capacity.
Overall, the Dempster-Dumpster and Garwood Load Packer eventually became
standard features on garbage trucks, and paved the way for the front loading and rear
loading garbage trucks. The dumpster in the Dempster-Dumpster system became
inspiration for modern front loaders, while the Garwood Load Packer brought about the
rear loading garbage truck design.
After the Dempster-Dumpster and the Garwood Load Packet, improvements to
garbage trucks were not large pushes in technology, but rather small innovations.
Around the time that front loaders were becoming commonplace, the automated
side loader (ASL) was first made in 1969. ASL’s quickly became popular because of the
fact that the driver/operator never needed to leave the vehicle. This led to other types of
refuse trucks adopting automated arms as they were proven to reduce workplace
injuries and labor costs.
Looking Forward To The Future of the Modern Garbage Truck
While safety and efficiency are always going to be key values in modern garbagetrucks, industries are looking for ways to innovate in the modern world. Separating
organic trash from non-organic trash, converting waste into energy, implementing more
robotics onto garbage trucks, the list goes on into possible new developments in the waste management industry.