Roll-off (dumpster)

In North America, a roll-off is a usually open top dumpster characterized by a rectangular footprint, utilizing wheels to facilitate rolling the dumpster in place. The container is designed to be transported by special roll-off trucks. Roll-offs are commonly used to contain loads of construction and demolition waste or other waste types. While most roll-off containers have a swinging door on the end for easier disposal of waste, some roll-off containers are not open top and are used with commercial or industrial trash compactors.

A roll-off being placed by a roll-off truck.

Construction debris may originate from a building site where something is being built, renovated, or demolished. Roll-off dumpsters are also used for various jobs that need much material to be taken away. The material in the roll-off may be taken to a landfill, recycled or disposed/recovered of in some other way.


Roll-off containers have a rectangular footprint typically determined by the size of typical trucks. Roll-off container sizes are determined by the amount of debris they can hold, measured in cubic yards[1]. Typical container sizes in the United States are 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 cubic yards[2](7.65 m3, 11.47 m3, 15.29 m3, 22.94 m3 and 30.58 m3) (or 2–40 cubic meters [2.6–52.3 cu yd] in other nations).[3]

Based on the different sizes of the roll-off dumpsters, you might want to consider which one fits best for your project.

10 cubic yard roll-off dumpster is great for small home projects like single room renovations, basement or garage cleanouts, 250sq ft deck replacement, or 1,500 sq ft of roofing.[4]

20 cubic yard roll-off dumpster is great for larger home projects or small construction projects like multiple room renovation, multiple room cleanout, a large deck or roof replacement, yard clean up with small trees.[5]

30 cubic yard roll-off dumpster is great for large amounts of bulky furniture like major home renovation projects, new home construction, large estate cleanouts, removal of trees and storms debris.[6]

40 cubic yard roll-off dumpster is meant for large and ongoing home projects or construction sites like home demolitions, new construction, commercial building cleanouts, commercial landscaping projects.[7]

While the roll-offs may be rented by volume, there may be weight limitations. Weight limits may be necessary to ensure compliance with road-use and safety laws and regulations. Most roll-off providers will have a weight limit for each container size. Containers loaded with more weight than allowed typically result in an overage charge. The maximum weight is specified at the beginning of the job. In cases where the material to be disposed of is especially dense, such as dirt, rock, or concrete, a container with lower sidewalls is used. This is to help reduce the risk of exceeding the weight limit. The standard weight limit determined by the department of transportation is not to exceed ten (10) tons of debris.


After the container is picked up, it is taken to a disposal facility where it is weighed before (gross) and after (tare) dumping. The difference is the net weight, and is used to calculate charges to the customer. For efficiency, some facilities pre-record weights of trucks and containers. This allows the tare weight to be looked up and eliminates the need for a second weighing.

Roll-offs are placed by roll-off trucks. As the roll-off truck raises its hydraulically operated bed, the roll-off container rolls off the bed. A cable is used to slowly lower the container. After the waste container is loaded, the roll-off truck pulls the filled container onto the roll-off truck with the cable and winch system. If the roll-off truck is not a winch system, then it is most likely a hook-lift system. A hook-lift system works by the truck extending a 90 degree arm with a hook on the end which hooks under a bar and gently lifts the dumpster onto the truck. Most hook-lift systems are on smaller roll-off trucks as they are usually used for 20 yard containers and under. These smaller systems are usually the preferred option on smaller scale construction jobs such as roof replacement, kitchen remodels, and garage clean-outs. Smaller single-axle trucks are generally viewed as safer operations as they are much lighter and more easily transported in residential areas. When carried the roll-off must be covered.

Cost factorsEdit

There are three parts to roll-off dumpster pricing: dump rate, haul rate, and overage fees. Dumpster rental companies pay the landfill, transfer station, recycling center, or other type of disposal facility a fee to dump the customer's waste. Fees fluctuate from area to area and facility to facility. Dump fees can be the majority of the cost for the dumpster, and are measured in short tons in the U.S. The haul rate is the rate that roll-off rental companies charge to cover operating costs and generate profit. Overage fees are additional fees the customer must pay if the dumpster is loaded more than the allotted tonnage limit. Overage fees are typically prorated and the same as the company's dump rate.

There may also be additional fees for improper loading and the loading of regulated or banned materials. The dumpster rental company may also make additional revenue from the spread between the allotted tonnage limit multiplied by the dump rate and the actual dump fees paid.


One problem often encountered with roll-off containers is the liability of scratching or damaging the surface they are placed on. Most roll-off containers have metal rollers for wheels, which can at times scratch or be abrasive to a concrete or asphalt surface. It is recommended to place a protective board such as plywood under the container to avoid a situation where the placement surface can be damaged. Most roll-off companies do not offer plywood, but will place the container on the wood if supplied. The roll-off must be placed on a hard surface other than dirt. Gravel, asphalt, and concrete are all acceptable. If the container is placed on dirt, the wheels may sink after a rainfall event and the truck could get stuck.

There are many items that are not accepted by roll-off rental companies. These items include but are not limited to chemicals, including paint and petroleum products, tires, and electronics. The prohibition of items is often to comply with laws and regulations concerning disposal of hazardous materials. Roll-off drivers may refuse to pick up loads containing prohibited materials. If the load is picked up, the roll-off rental company may charge the customer additional for cleaning the load and proper handling of the contaminating material.

Legal issuesEdit

Some municipalities require that a permit be obtained in order to have a roll-off dumpster delivered. If the container is being set on private property, most cities will not require a permit. Some municipalities require the permit to be obtained by the customer, while others require the permit to be obtained by the roll-off provider. However, many cities do not require permits to have a dumpster delivered.

There are usually prohibited items that are commonly not allowed for disposal, such as hazardous materials, tires, freon appliances, televisions, paint, asbestos, batteries, oils, fuels, and tar-treated railroad ties because of regulations affecting final waste disposal.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Roll-Off Dumpster Rental Tips: Choosing Your Dumpster Size and More". Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  2. ^ "Roll-Off Box Sizes". Stanford Buildings & Grounds Maintenance. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Waste Truck Collection Systems". 11 February 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Size Selection Guide". Alliance Disposal: Size Selection Guide.
  5. ^ "Size Selection Guide". Alliance Disposal: Size Selection Guide. Alliance Disposal.
  6. ^ "Size Selection Guide". Alliance Disposal: Size Selection Guide. Alliance Disposal.
  7. ^ "Size Selection Guide". Alliance Disposal: Size Selection Guide. Alliance Disposal.
  8. ^ "Items banned from disposal in the State of Vermont". State of Vermont. 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2018.