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1940s – Wood: In order to remain productive and avoid long trips to the docks, shipbuilders needed nearby restroom facilities. As a result, wooden cabanas with small holding tanks were constructed, and the portable restroom concept was born. The original porta-potties were heavy and smelled bad because of the lack of deodorizing chemicals
1960s – Fiberglass: As more businesses and event organizers realized the benefits of portable restrooms, portable restroom manufacturing became a growing industry. Fiberglass replaced wood and metal as a construction material because it was lighter and easier to clean, although it was more fragile and absorbed and held bad odors.
Plastic: Around the same time, the first U.S. patent for a polyethylene plastic porta-potty, the forerunner of the units of today, was issued to George Harding, co-founder of PolyJohn Enterprises. It became the preferred choice because it was lightweight, easy to clean and durable. Plus, it didn’t smell as bad as wood or fiberglass versions.
1980s – Trailers: Luxury restroom trailers began to emerge to provide an upscale alternative to porta-potties. The trailers featured multiple flushing toilets and urinals, running water sinks, and sometimes even heating and air conditioning.
Today – Innovative Variation: The portable restroom industry is as innovative and important as ever. Manufacturers offer a variety of different styles (standard, deluxe and ADA-compliant) in addition to luxury trailers.