Terms to Know Before Renting a Dumpster

Dumpster rental guide

10, 20, 30, (etc) Yard Dumpsters

The size of a dumpster is measured in cubic yards. For example, a “10-yard dumpster” is a container with 10 cubic yards of space for dumping material. The exact dimensions of a 10, 20, 30, 40, etc. yard dumpster rental can vary depending upon what the rental company has available. However, here are some common sizes:

Dumpster size Dimensions What Will Fit?

10 yard

12 ft. x 8 ft. x 4 ft.

250 sq. ft. deck removal

20 yard

22 ft. x 8 ft. x 4.5 ft.

2500 sq. ft. single-layer of shingles

30 yard

22 ft. x 8 ft. x 6 ft.

Garage demo

40 yard

22 ft. x 8 ft. x 8 ft.

New home construction

Most rental companies offer additional dumpster sizes other than the ones listed above.

Clean Load

A clean load refers to a rented roll-off dumpster filled with one type of recyclable material, such as concrete, asphalt, plastics or cardboard. This makes it easier for the dumpster rental company to have the entire load recycled rather than dumped at the landfill. Trash recycling is an eco-friendly option offered by many dumpster rental companies. Always ask the rental company if they accept clean loads for recycling before renting the container.

Commercial Dumpster

Also referred to as trash dumpsters, commercial dumpsters are rented dumpsters picked up by trash collectors on a regular schedule. Trash dumpsters also differ from roll-off containers in that they are typically smaller – 2 to 8 cubic yards – they are covered dumpsters (have a lid), and they are picked up weekly or monthly. Restaurants, grocery stores, apartment complexes, etc. use these dumpsters.

Dumpster Bag

A dumpster bag is an alternative to a traditional steel dumpster. A dumpster bag is made from heavy-duty materials that can handle heavy loads. It’s sometimes a more economical choice for smaller cleanups, such as removing kitchen flooring. Not all dumpster rental companies offer dumpster bags.

Dumpster Permit

A dumpster permit may be required in some municipalities, particularly if you plan to have the container rental positioned on the side of the city street. Some dumpster rental companies take care of all city permit requirements, but you may be responsible for securing permits in some circumstances. Always ask your dumpster rental company about permit requirements. Permits are not required if you plan to position the rental container on private property.

Junk Removal Company

A junk removal company offers a similar service to dumpster rental companies, except they actually do all the heavy lifting for you. The junk removal company takes care of the loading and removal of all the junk using their own containers and trucks. It’s a great option if you need a bulk waste removal solution but don’t want to load the container or have a container sit on your property for multiple days. Often times the junk removal company will complete the job in less than a day.

Landfill Fees or “Tipping” Fees

Most of the waste you put into your rented dumpster ends up in area landfills. Local and city governments run these landfills, and a fee is required to offload waste. This is called the landfill, or tipping, fee. This fee is typically charged per ton of waste, and the U.S. average is about $44 per ton. Sometimes this fee is included in the cost of your dumpster rental, but other times it is not. Make sure your dumpster rental company clarifies whether or not this fee is included in the quoted price.

Maximum Tonnage

The maximum weight of the material you can load into a rented dumpster is known as the maximum tonnage. The rental company will let you know what the maximum tonnage is for the particular dumpster you rent, and they’ll give you a general idea of how much material it takes to reach the maximum tonnage. If you exceed the max tonnage, you will be responsible for paying overage charges – usually charged per ton.

Mixed Loads

A mixed load refers to a filling a rented dumpster with multiple types of recyclables, such as wood, cardboard, and plastics. Unlike a clean load, a mixed load must be sorted out at a sorting facility to separate the various types of recyclables. Mixed load sorting facilities are not available in most cities across the U.S., but it is a practice that is growing in popularity.


An overage charge is a fee incurred if you happen to exceed the tonnage limits on your rental. It’s in addition to the original price quote for the container rental. For example, if your roll-off container rental has a 4-ton limit and the final load contains 5 tons of waste, you’re responsible for an additional fee to cover the added expense of hauling and dumping the extra waste.

Prohibited Items

These are items you are not allowed to toss in rented dumpsters. Some of the most common prohibited items included motor oil, lead-acid batteries, paint and tires. Always ask about dumpster rental prohibited items when renting the container to avoid potential fees and penalties.

Roll-Off Dumpster

When you rent a dumpster for a household remodeling project, construction or any sort of cleanout, you rent a roll off dumpster. Roll off dumpsters are also referred to as roll-off containers, open-top containers or simply dumpster rentals. It’s called a “roll off” dumpster because it literally rolls off the back of the delivery truck. One side of the container is on wheels to make the drop-off and pickup much easier.

Roll-Off Truck

A roll off dumpster truck is the truck that drops off and picks up your roll off dumpster container.


Roll-off dumpsters are referred to as “skips” in certain parts of the world, particularly in England.