Renowned for their reliability when it comes to rubbish removal, skips are essential pieces of equipment used in all kinds of waste management by both domestic and commercial customers alike. Available in a range of sizes, they can be used to dispose of a large variety of waste types, however their modern versatility hasn’t always been the case.
Read on below as we take you on a journey through the history of the skip, exploring the origins of their use and name, how their purpose and availability evolved and how they turned into the skips we see and use today.
Understanding the Skip: What’s its Purpose?
Before we look at the origins of skips, let us first discuss what a skip actually is and what it’s used for. A skip, as we’re sure you know, is a large (typically) open-topped container that is filled up with and contains waste, which is then taken away to be disposed of.
Due to their size, they are most often used to dispose of large, bulky items and/or large amounts of items that cannot be easily disposed of or taken away in the general waste collection. They are designed to have tall sides to keep this rubbish in, while the ends are slanted in a trapezium shape to make them easier to unload.
Origins of the Skip
There are differing accounts of the true origins of the skip, however some theories are accepted more than others. One of the most widely accepted beliefs for the origin of the modern skip is in post-war Germany. At this time, there was a lot of destruction, resulting in rubble and waste that needed to be cleared, which is when the skip was supposedly invented.
Before, drivers would park up and wait for their trucks to be filled with this rubble before driving it to the waste transfer centre, however it was noticed that this wasn’t cost-effective since drivers had to wait for such long periods of time. As such, the skip was introduced to allow waste to be collected whilst saving money on labour costs.
As their use became more widespread, their popularity spread to the UK. in the 1960s we adopted the German method for waste disposal and they became common sight on disposal sites – however, they were only affordable to the wealthy at this point in time.
As for modern skip lorries that are used to transfer skips to disposal stations, these can be credited to the Dempster brothers, who set up a company of the same name, in Tennessee. In 1935, they invented a piece of equipment known as the Dempster Dumpster, which could lift and transport skip-like waste containers as well as dump the waste from them, thus greatly reducing manpower requirements at construction sites.
So, now that you know more about the origin of skips and their use, where did they get their name? It is said that the word ‘skip’ came about as a variation of the word ‘skep’, which itself derived from the Old English ‘sceppe’, meaning basket. This word itself was used as the name of old beehives, which were inverted straw or wicker baskets, rather than the wooden hives we see today.
‘Skep’ is also the term that was used to refer to the carts that were used in the mining industry (the shape of which influenced that of modern skips), which is likely why the skips we use today are named the same, with ‘skep’ turning into ‘skip’ as dialects changed and language evolved.
The Evolution of their Design, Purpose & Availability
Nowadays, the majority of modern skips are a vivid yellow colour. This was a rule brought into place in the 1970s, when the government stated that all skips had to be painted yellow. This was the chosen colour since it is the most visible in the dark, and since skips were often placed on roads this worked to minimise the chances of potential collisions.
These rules have since been somewhat relaxed, however most modern skips are still this yellow colour. Safety precautions surrounding skips and their use have also evolved, such as the use of LED skip hazard lamps, which are used for increased visibility in the dark to show when a skip is placed on the road.
There are also different types of skips, which are designed with different purposes in mind. For example, the most common open skips allow for the easy loading of waste and debris, whereas fully enclosed skips are designed to keep contents out of the reach of animals, while lidded skips are ideal for carrying hazardous waste.
Back when skips were first invented, they were only available in one size. However, as demand for skips grew along with changing needs, they have since been made available in more sizes. In modern times, things are made on a much larger scale than they had been in the past. On top of that, we also have the resources to recycle a lot more resources than before. These two things combined means much more can now be disposed of in a skip.
In order to accommodate for this, commercial skips are now a lot larger than they once were. There has also been the introduction of domestic skips (which we will discuss further later), which don’t need to be anywhere near as large as those used at construction sites.
Subsequently, skips are available to hire from as small as two cubic yards to 12 cubic yards for domestic use (and for use on construction sites), whilst commercial skips can be as large as 20 or 40 cubic yards.
Purpose & Availability
Back when skips were first invented, as we’ve mentioned, they were predominantly used on construction sites, and only the wealthy could afford them. Demand for convenient and effective waste removal has since grown, with those outside of the construction sphere requiring such solutions.
For example, many homeowners benefit from the use of a skip for a variety of reasons, such as during a home renovation, house clearance or landscaping a garden. With these new demands, more skip types have been made available (e.g. those used exclusively for green waste) and in a range of sizes as we previously discussed.
With this range of sizes available, skips are also now more easily available for individuals to hire. Since you can choose the size of the skip you need and for how long for, you simply pay for what you need, making skip hire an affordable option for many.
With consideration for the environment being especially prevalent in today’s day and age, skip hire has evolved to meet requirements for more environmentally conscious waste disposal. Beforehand, skips would be taken to landfill sites to dispose of the waste they collected.
Now, many skip hire companies actively try to reduce the waste they collect from their skips going to landfill. Instead, it is separated and all recyclable materials are disposed of responsibly. Here at Cherry Hill Waste, not only is recycling one of our main priorities, but almost all of the waste we collect is salvaged, making us one of the most environmentally friendly waste retrieval and disposal services in the Newcastle-under-Lyme area.
As well as enabling households to conveniently remove their waste and contribute to recycling schemes, skips hire also enables them to save on fuel and reduces emissions costs. Rather than people having to make multiple trips to a waste transfer centre, the use of skips for rubbish removal cuts this down to a single trip, which is a much more efficient and sustainable method.
Get in Touch
So, now you are well versed in the history of skips! We’re sure that after reading this article you can also see how beneficial skip hire is. If you think you would benefit from skip hire to meet your waste disposal needs, then reach out to us here at Cherry Hill Waste.
Operating in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke and Stafford, you can count on us to offer affordable, comprehensive skip hire services. What’s more, we are constantly expanding to recycle even more material than before, so you can rest assured that your waste will be disposed of responsibly.