The portable toilet industry began in the 1940's in the ship building yards of Long Beach, California. At the time, laborers working on the ships had to go to the dock each time they had to use a toilet. A ship builder recognizing the great cost for people to go so far to use the toilets, asked the company which was emptying the holding tanks of the permanent dock toilets if they could make a toilet which could be temporarily put on the ship closer to the workers. A wood cabana was developed with a small holding tank which became the first portable toilet. This unique concept soon spread to the construction industry and to organizers of large crowd events.
The first portable toilets, made of wood and metal, were heavy to transport and unfortunately, absorbed odors and were difficult to keep sanitary. In the early 1970's, portable toilets made of fiberglass were introduced. They were lighter than wood and easier to transport. Still, problems persisted. The fiberglass toilets required more maintenance due to the brittle nature of the material. In addition, fiberglass absorbed odors in the cabana and holding tank, thus proving to be a poor choice of material. In the mid-1970's, polyethylene portable toilets were introduced. Polyethylene made portable toilets lightweight and more durable. Polyethylene is easier to clean, since it is a non-porous and non-absorbing material. It is the most popular material for portable toilets today.
The success of the clean and portable toilet is almost unparalleled. The advantage of being self-contained, having no moving parts, requiring no power source and the use of attractive non-porous plastic with smooth surfaces, has made the portable toilet superior to many permanent facilities.
As part of the value of rented portable toilets, Diamond Environmental Services cleans their portable toilets with a frequency based on the number of toilet users. At service time, Diamond Environmental sends a pump truck to the toilet site whereas the driver sanitizes the inside of the toilet's holding tank and cabana and "recharges" the holding tank with fresh deodorizer. The driver refills supplies (toilet paper, soap and fresh water), leaving customers with a clean portable restroom. The waste is then transported for proper sanitary disposal.