Day after day, mile after mile, dependable garbage trucks haul heavy loads of history picked up from homes and businesses. This year, the garbage truck itself celebrates a historic milestone.
2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the garbage truck. Before automobiles, garbage was collected by wagons. When vehicles began hitting streets, garbage collectors switched to standard open top trucks. These were the first type of trucks Rumpke used during early years of operation. However, working with these trucks was challenging. Not only was trash not contained, but collection was very difficult for workers who had to heave heavy cans or bags of trash shoulder height to fill the trucks.
By the 1920s, inventors unveiled a new truck featuring round compartments and corkscrews to lift loads into the back of the truck. Henry Ford pioneered his very own line of trucks as well as other manufacturers throughout North America and Europe. Trucks featuring a hopper, which used a cable system to pull the trash toward the front of the truck, were introduced later in the decade.
The dumpster system also emerged in the 1920s, with trucks featuring George Dempster’s mechanical tipper, the Dempster-Dumpster, to unload waste containers.
In the 1950s the Dempster Dumpmaster was invented providing a commercial garbage collection machine which picked up large waste containers from businesses. Bill and the late Tom Rumpke formed Rumpke Container Service in the 1960s to service larger containers for commercial accounts.
The standard rear load truck of today rolled onto the roads a couple years later, and Rumpke began using these trucks for its residential routes. Today’s rear load trucks pick up between 400-600 stops before filling.
Just as garbage trucks evolved, Rumpke adjusted to keep customer costs low and safety and efficiency high, and today Rumpke’s fleet of 1,700 vehicles includes a variety of truck types ranging from open top trucks to the latest technology available, including automated collection trucks.
Technology continues to shift and garbage trucks are getting greener. In 2011, Rumpke added 10 compressed natural gas collection trucks to its fleet. These residential trucks run on greener gas generated by Rumpke Sanitary Landfill, and 11 more will be added in 2012.
Over the years Rumpke has proudly used this tool of trade. Happy 100th anniversary garbage truck, you have been with Rumpke for the long haul.
About the author: Amanda Pratt is the director of corporate communications at Rumpke.