Cost of Hauling Waste Yourself vs Renting a Dumpster

cost to haul junk yourself vs renting a dumpster

Handling a waste removal project yourself can save you money in some cases, but generally only with small projects.

We’ll compare the costs of renting a dumpster vs. hauling the waste yourself.

Because there are several factors that affect the cost of hauling away waste, what may be the best choice for one person, may not be the best choice for another.

Before comparing costs side-by-side, it’s important to understand the various factors that influence cost.

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

  • How close is the nearest landfill or transfer facility that accepts the waste I'm hauling?
  • Is my trailer or truck big enough to handle the debris I have?
  • Will I need to make multiple trips to complete the cleanup?
  • Do I know the waste transport and disposal laws in my city?

Your time is valuable. If it is going to cost you lots of time and money to haul the items to the proper facility yourself, you're better off having someone else do it for you.


rent a dumpster or haul debris myself

Cost Comparison

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 to give you an idea.

Cost Factor Dumpster Rental Hauling 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 $80 (conservatively assuming your time is worth $40/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) $191


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 $40/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?

When hauling the waste or debris 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.

And 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.

If the following is true, DIY waste removal may make sense:

  1. You live near a licensed dump site or recycling facility 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 very high due to your location or limited availability.

Lastly, “time” is the most valuable resource there is, and 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 well worth considering.

Rent a dumpster near me

Other Considerations

Cost is important, but 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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