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Dumpster Sizes and How Much They Hold

Garbage and Recycling
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A dumpster can be used to haul unwanted debris from household clean-ups, projects, and construction and it can come in a variety of sizes. A dumpster can be permanent, temporary, open top, or a compactor type. Temporary dumpsters are often referred to as open top roll offs and come in 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 yard containers (exact sizes differ depending on area and company). A roll off dumpster is rolled off the back of a hauling truck and is often used at construction sites, home clean-outs, kitchen or bathroom remodeling, and roofing projects.

Dumpster containers that come in 3, 4, 6, or 8 yard measurements are uncommon for large projects, like construction, as the trucks that transport these models are not designed to handle extreme weight or uneven terrain. Smaller containers and permanent dumpsters are often found outside of businesses and collect daily garbage. Sizes depend on need and are part of the normal municipal waste collection. Compactors are special dumpsters that crush debris or cardboard to allow maximum collection space.

Dumpster containers are also divided by types of waste disposal: household debris (light household waste), clean construction debris, clean concrete, and stump & brush (trees and branches). Solid waste that goes to a landfill requires a different type of rental than yard waste, construction, or concrete. It is important not to mingle different types of debris, for instance: throwing bricks, wood, or rocks into a concrete dumpster is not allowed.

How much a dumpster will hold depends on the types of materials and weight involved.

Here are some helpful hints for sizing up a dumpster:

  • One cubic yard equals 1 yard wide x 1 yard long x 1 yard high. A 6' dumpster will hold 6 cubic yards.
  • A 72" couch will take up 1/3 of a 6 cubic yard container.
  • A twin mattress will take up 1/4 of a 6 cubic yard container.
  • A 10 yard dumpster will hold 5 to10 tons, depending on materials.
  • 12 and 20 cubic yard dumpsters are the most popular rentals and accommodate small to medium residential projects.
  • 40 cubic yard dumpsters are ideal for major home renovations and demolition.

Most dumpster rental companies require that all items fit inside and are level with the top of the dumpster. Find out the rules and restrictions of the rental company to avoid wasting time and money. Some cities require a permit for dumpster rental and use. Hazardous waste should never be put in a dumpster. The list of non-dumpster items includes TVs, refrigerators, paints, solvents, asbestos, liquids, and other chemicals and toxic materials. These items must be disposed of properly. Find out about ways to recycle materials in order to minimize the amount of waste headed for the landfill. More information on proper hazardous waste disposal and recyclable items is available from local government agencies and dumpster rental companies.

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