What really is a Wheelie Bin?

post image - history of the wheelie bin

Today you will see wheelie bins everywhere. They exist very close to us, hidden in plain sight, executing their duty in the name of civilised sanitation. Nobody gives them much thought except when paying a visit to them with our rubbish, or when keeping an eye on the collection schedule.

We mostly notice them on rubbish collection day when they line up like green soldiers on parade down our streets, waiting for their queen rubbish truck to pass by and take her fill. However, standing out from the usual line-up there is sometimes the odd one or two in bright primary colours that look as if they are waiting for the circus parade to pass by. There are sometimes black ones too that appear as covert special forces bins, taking their rubbish service very seriously.

The wheelie bin is the hidden-in-plain-sight hero of our society. Today we see them everywhere: at our homes, factories, offices, on streets, in parks, behind restaurants, and down laneways – everywhere. They have this amazing power to be invisible unless we are looking at them.

They were designed to serve us.

How the wheelie bin came into being has been claimed by the British to be an invention of theirs (of course). It is reputed to have been born from a cast mould in a plastic mouldings company called Frank Rotherham Mouldings, in the Berkshire area of England in around 1968. They were created by the company to be used around their factory as a mobile way of storing waste. According to legend, a visiting health inspector saw the benefits of these wheelie bins for occupational health and safety, and it’s greater purpose was then found and the word spread. Soon after, they spread throughout the land, and world domination was achieved in the later part of the 20th century when they were all married to automatic garbage trucks to become the most ubiquitous form of waste management the world has ever seen.

Historical footnotes

first drawing on cave of wheelie bin

There are various claims on the internet that drawings of wheelie bins had been found in man caves drawn by cavemen. It has been speculated that wheelie bin design may have preceded the invention of the wheel by around 1000 years, but due to the wheel not having been developed at the time, the idea was shelved until the science had caught up. Even if this were true, it is most likely that these are not related to the modern wheelie bin, being on a separate branch of the tree of technical evolution.

Another rumour of mention was that wooden versions of the modern wheelie bin had been discovered preserved in the ruins of Pompeii. It has been proposed that some parts of the ash may have come from the charred remnants of a highly developed system of wheeled sanitation. Archeologists have taken the ash away in wheelie bins for further research.

a wheelie bin being beamed down from a flying saucer

Some conspiracy theorists also believe without doubt that the original blueprints are stored at Area 51 in Nevada, USA – which also uses wheelie bins on site. They were supposedly given to us from grateful aliens in exchange for the gift of vanilla ice cream. There is no evidence for this of course, but it is true that they like vanilla ice cream.

Smell the gratitude

We hardly notice our humble wheelie bin; these vital tools of waste management.

Not until they are broken, or worse, when they make us dry-retch from the smell of things we wish we had never smelt, do we pay attention to their thankless work. Sometimes there is a visual that accompanies this smell that should never be smelt – to describe it would be an abuse of imagination, so we will leave it there.

It is worth noting, sadly, that it is not until they are broken or have run away that we really appreciate their gross worth. We can show more appreciation for these wheeled wonders of waste mobility.

We really only appreciate our wheelie bins when they are really clean and healthy.

The best way to show our appreciation for our tireless servants of sanitation is to ensure that they are always kept up to the standard of sanitation that they were designed to uphold:

  • Keep them maintained and in good order with repairs done by your wheelie bin professional.
  • Keep them healthy with a regular visit from your wheelie bin health professional.

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