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Portable Toilets: Your Friendly Fact File

From festivals to fairgrounds, campsites to construction sites, portable toilets are a modern phenomenon that provide us with an incredible convenience when nature comes calling in remote settings. When you think about it, portable toilets are actually quite fascinating - how did they come about? How do they work? Are they a sustainable solution?


We’ve put together this mini fact file for you, answering your burning questions regarding portable toilets. Read on below to learn more.



Modern toilet portable cabin


Portable Toilets were Invented in the 1940s

Technically, portable toilets could date back even further than this (think Victorian thunderboxes and chamber pots!), but the cubicle version that resembles the portable toilets we know and use today came about in the 1940s.


It’s believed to have come about when a dock supervisor noticed his workers slipping away to dry land to relieve themselves when they were supposed to be working. Thus, the first modern portable toilet was built. This was very much like the toilets we know today, though was made from wooden panels and used a metal box to store the waste - making it heavy and laborious to both move and empty.


There was also nothing to conceal the unpleasant smells that lingered, though this was rectified by 1942, when the first deodoriser was patented. This consisted of formaldehyde, which helped to neutralise any bad smells.


They Work Thanks to Holding Tanks

If you’ve ever used a portable toilet before, then you may have wondered ‘where does the waste go?’, in which case you wouldn’t be alone in thinking this. Let us finally put your mind at ease.

Portable toilets consist of four main components - the toilet seat, the holding tank, the flushing mechanism and the pressure system.


Rather than being connected to a sewer, it is the holding tank that stores all the waste in a portable toilet, containing chemicals that break down solid waste, kill germs, reduce toilet paper and destroy odours. These holding tanks then need to be emptied once they’re full.


Portable Toilets are More Eco-Friendly than Regular Toilets

Yep, you read that right. Contrary to popular belief, portable toilets are actually much more eco-friendly than you may expect - even more so than the toilet you’ll find in your own home! Firstly, they conserve a lot more water. Unlike domestic toilets, which use more water every day to be flushed than any other activity, portable toilets instead flush using a vacuum system.

You may wonder about the chemicals they use and if the disposal of waste in a portable toilet counteracts the benefit of their water conservation. Well, unlike the formaldehyde that was used originally, they now use safe chemicals. As for disposal, waste is held for no more than a week and is then disposed of at an appropriate treatment facility, ensuring that no waste is being leached into the ground or any local waterways.


Are you looking for portable toilet hire in Manchester? If so, look no further than Manchester Cabins. As well as portable toilets, we also offer storage containers and anti-vandal offices. Get in touch with us today for more information.

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