Cost of Hauling Waste Yourself vs. Renting a Dumpster

Cost comparison between renting a dumpster and DIY waste removal

Why spend several hundred dollars to rent a dumpster when you can haul loads of waste or debris to the landfill yourself? DIY’ing a waste removal task can save you money in some cases, but that’s only on small projects. We’ll compare detailed costs of renting a dumpster vs. hauling the waste yourself.

Not a clear-cut decision

Because there are various factors affecting the cost to haul away waste, what makes sense for one person, may not make sense (or cents) for another. So before comparing costs side-by-side, it’s important to understand the various factors that sway the costs up or down.

When planning to haul the debris yourself, consider the following:

  • How close is the nearest landfill or transfer facility that accepts the type of waste you're hauling?
  • Is the trailer or truck large enough to handle the load? Will multiple trips be required to complete the cleanup?
  • Have you researched waste transport and disposal laws in your city and state? Some locations have rather restrictive regulations regarding transportation of waste.
  • Additional work is required to haul the waste or debris yourself.
  • Time is required to transport the waste. Your time is valuable.

We will consider these factors in comparing costs. But keep in mind that most of these factors are variable. For example, some people live within 10 miles of a landfill, making much easier to DIY the waste hauling compared to someone who is 100 miles away from the closest drop-off facility.

Cost comparison

rent a dumpster or haul debris myself

Use the chart below to help determine which strategy is best for your situation. We’ll use the example of renting a 20 yard dumpster for a kitchen renovation project. Just swap out the arbitrary numbers and enter your own to get personalized results.

Cost Factor Rent a Dumpster Haul Waste Yourself
Fuel Costs (assuming 30 miles to landfill) $0 $30 ($0.50 per mile)
Roundtrips Required $0 $30 (Two trips assuming 5-10 cubic yards per trailer load)
Transport/Unloading Time (2 hrs.) $0 $100 (conservatively assuming your time is worth $50/hr.)
Overage Fees $50/ton (potentially) $0
Late Fees $15/day (potentially) $0
Dump Fees $0 $51/ton (national average)
Truck/Equipment Wear & Tear No Yes
Totals: $375 (national average) $211

The example above shows it may be more cost-efficient to haul debris to the landfill yourself for smaller projects generating less than 20 yards of debris. However, that may not be the case in every scenario.

For example, if you value your time more than $50/hr., that opportunity cost would go up. Likewise, fuel costs and/or dump fees may be more expensive in your location.

There’s also the “hassle” factor. Wouldn’t you agree that renting a dumpster is far less of a hassle than hauling the load yourself?

DIY waste haulingThink about it...

When handling the waste hauling yourself, it can take a significant amount of time and energy to load the trailer or truck with the debris, properly and safely secure it, drive it to the dump site, pay the fees, unload it (you may be responsible to unload it all), and then drive back. That’s just one trip. For larger projects, it may require 2, 3, or even more roundtrips to the landfill.

On the other hand, all that’s required of you with a rented dumpster is the loading. There’s no driving, emptying, securing the load, etc…

Again, this isn’t to say that renting a dumpster is always the better option. Situations where DIY waste removal may make sense are when the following is true:

  1. You live near a licensed dump site that accepts the type of waste or debris you’re hauling
  2. The trailer or truck used for the haul is large enough to accommodate the load in one trip
  3. The price of dumpsters in your area is extraordinarily high due to your location or limited availability

Lastly, “time” is the most valuable resource there is—far more valuable than money. People often make the mistake of undervaluing their time. If there’s a way to save time or make things more efficient with anything in your life—including renovation, cleanouts, roofing jobs, yard cleanups, etc.—it’s something well worth considering.

Look beyond the obvious dollar amounts

In summary, look at more than just the bottom line dollar amount when deciding on whether to rent a dumpster or DIY the waste removal. Factor in the time and effort required to haul the load yourself. In many cases, it may be worth paying a little more to rent a dumpster. It will no doubt save a significant amount of time and effort, helping you to complete the project faster.


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