The average American produces 1,704 pounds of garbage per year.
Americans need a reliable form of waste removal to handle that kind of load.
But there are several different types of garbage trucks out there. Which one is best for your business?
Keep reading and we’ll run you through everything you need to know about garbage trucks.
Quick History of Trucks for Collecting Waste
In the 1800s, a horse-drawn wagon would drive through cities. The driver would call out to residents to pile their waste on top of the wagon. This method changed very little in the 1920s when motor vehicles replaced horses.
In the 1950s, the post-war economic boom brought one-time-use and disposable products, creating much more trash. In response to the increased amount of waste, the first enclosed garbage truck was created. It had hydraulic rams that would crush trash, much like what is used today.
All types of garbage trucks are made of sheets of steel that are reinforced by steel channels. The sheet metal is as thin as possible, so the truck isn’t heavier than it needs to be.
Types of Garbage Trucks: Front Loader
A front loader garbage truck is great for industrial and commercial services. Its huge container can hold up to 40 cubic yards of waste, and the truck is about 8,000 pounds.
They use hydraulic steel forks on the front of the vehicle to pick up dumpsters. The entire dumpster is lifted up and dumped into the trash receptacle.
A hydraulic wall oscillates inside the container, compacting waste. Newer models can pack waste while the vehicle is driving, significantly reducing load times. When the container is full, a compaction wall will eject trash through the tailgate.
Front loader garbage trucks usually only require one person to operate it.
One of the best types of garbage trucks for residential services is side loaders. These 3,000-pound vehicles can handle trash from 1,500 homes per day or 28 cubic yards of waste.
The opening for trash is on the side of the vehicle, behind the driver’s side of the cab. This is for easy access for the driver, assuming they are picking up trash by themselves.
There are two variations of side loaders: automated and manual. The automated truck has an arm that will pick up and dump trash bins. The manual trucks need a person to dump the trash.
Manual side loaders are usually cheaper than automatic trucks. However, automatic side loaders only require one operator, and they are much more affordable when buying secondhand.
Rear loaders are good for commercial and residential services. They can hold 800-850 homes-worth of trash. Depending on the size of the vehicle, that ranges from 6-35 cubic yards of waste.
There is a significant opening in the back of the vehicle that allows you to dump large amounts of trash at once. There is also a compactor that will make more space in the container.
Most have an arm on the back of the vehicle to pick up and dump the trash. Some vehicles have arms that can pick up trash bins mechanically, while others require you to place the bins onto the arm.
These multipurpose kinds of trucks are usually the most affordable option.
Roll-offs are most popular at demolition and construction sites. These vehicles have a removable waste bin that is left at a construction site. When the client is finished with their project, the truck returns and rolls the bin back on the truck.
These trucks can carry about 20,000 pounds of waste, making it great for heavy material and mass-scale trash removal.
These kinds of trucks are equipped to handle two or more recyclable materials, like glass, plastic, metal, or newspaper. Each material has its own loading bin so as not to mix materials.
These trucks can be operated by a crew of one or two people.
New Vs. Used Garbage Trucks
Used garbage trucks are more affordable options that usually have the same features as new trucks.
Used vehicles are also available immediately, which is great when you need to quickly replace a broken-down truck. New garbage trucks usually require a lead time of 3-6 months before its arrival, which would need to be planned around.
Additionally, many used trucks come with a warranty, so you can have some peace of mind buying a secondhand vehicle. Make sure to get documentation on the truck’s condition at the time of purchase, or even before you finalize the sale.
Which Is Right For Me?
Commercial and industrial locations often have large dumpsters for their garbage. A front loader is ideal for handling large trash receptacles.
If your trash removal route is mostly residential, especially in small towns or suburbs, then a side loader might be your best option. If you only have one person per vehicle, it may be better to get a garbage truck with a mechanical arm.
Rear loaders are great multi-purpose garbage trucks. The large opening in the back can handle dumpsters, but it’s in a convenient enough location that a person could dump a trash can in the opening.
A specialized recycling truck may only be necessary if you are picking up recyclables from a pre-sorted bin. If the recyclables are mixed together in one bin, then a dedicated front loader or rear loader will work just fine.
Unless you want a new garbage truck with upgraded features, used trucks are probably your best option. Unfortunately, you are subject to what’s available, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for, then you may be forced to buy new.
Walk Away With a New (or Used) Truck
You’re now equipped to pick out some of the best types of garbage trucks for your business.
Are you in need of a new garbage truck? Maybe you just need to rent one for a special event. Browse our website to check out our selection!