Today, roll-off containers are stronger, more efficient and more specialized than ever before. But not all jobs are created equal. The size of the task, the duration of the job and even the nature of the materials being hauled away all play factors in landing on your best option.
By Kirk Warren

Taking on a big job such as construction, light demolition or even cleaning out a house is a big decision. It takes a major investment of time and money to improve the state of your home or business—as well as to make way for a new endeavor. The way you will deal with debris and other byproducts of such a job is one of the most important decisions you will make in the process.

Roll-off Containers Have Come a Long Way in Waste Management
Today, roll-off containers are stronger, more efficient and more specialized than ever before. But not all jobs are created equal. The size of the task, the duration of the job and even the nature of the materials being hauled away all play factors in landing on your best option. Here are some tips and facts to help you determine the type of roll-off container that can best handle your job.

Which Roll-Off Container Type Do I Need?
Believe it or not, where you work might go a long way toward determining which type of container you choose. The two basic types are:

  1. Rectangular—Most popular in the northeastern U.S.; the rectangular roll-off container is the one ordered most. These resemble containers you might have seen on cargo ships and are made of reinforced steel to accommodate the densest and most rugged waste materials.
  2. Tub—You will find these roll-off containers mostly in the southern and southwestern U.S. They are smooth-sided and stackable, with no outside rail structure. These are ideal for signage and easy to apply decals to, depending on the visibility of your job.
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    Rectangular open top roll-off dumpsters: Wastequip’s rectangular open top roll-off containers are their most durable, heavy-duty containers. They are designed for the most demanding waste hauling and scrap collection jobs. Wastequip roll-off containers meet ANSI safety specifications and dimensional standards for haulers.

What Size Roll-Off Container Do I Need?
A living room renovation will require a smaller roll-off container than, say, the demolition of a small structure. Here are some general guidelines to which roll-off container might best fit your task:

  • 10 yards—The smallest roll-off container is the most agile. You can maneuver it into tight spaces for easy loading of any debris resulting from simple home cleanouts, as well as for hauling away limited amounts of concrete and dirt. Got small-scale jobs involving heavy-duty materials? These are no problem for this sleek roll-off container. Holds 2 to 3 tons.
  • 15 yards—Hauling out lots of concrete or bulkier items such as bathroom fixtures? This container will fit the bill. It is also a good fit for cleanouts of various types of waste, from plywood to fencing to larger pieces of metal. It is also perfect for the disposal of old roof shingles and paving stones, and for other renovations. Holds 2 to 3 tons.
  • 20 yards—Most jobs call for the 20- or 30-yard roll-off container. It features more room for landscaping tasks and removal of rocks, sod and trees. It can hold about six pickup-truck loads of material. It is just the thing for multi-level tasks, such as cleanouts and renovations. Holds 3 tons.
  • 30 yards—Do you have a long-term job that involves many aspects of waste removal? Go bigger with a 30-yard roll-off container. Have jobs that require a cleanout of furniture, then a renovation, plus a landscaping makeover? This is the high-wall container for the job. Holds 3.5 to 5 tons.
  • 40 yards—Contractors and property owners often call for the king of roll-off containers. Do not start a building demolition without one. High walls allow you to stack waste material for removal. It is the top choice for the biggest jobs in renovation and restoration. Holds 5 to 6 tons.

How Long Will I Need a Roll-Off Container?
That depends entirely on the job. Cold-weather regions and rainy seasons can have an impact on the duration of the task at hand. Depending on the nature of the task, you might have a shorter window for completion.

What Can I Load in a Roll-Off Container?
You might find this surprising, but dirt is more dense than cement. 10-yard through 20-yard roll-off containers are ideal for heavy items like dirt, concrete and shingles. The maximum weight allowed is 10 tons, regardless of roll-off container size. Therefore, it is better to use a bigger roll-off container because of the net weight of the load. Items such as mattresses and pallets—which are high in surface space but low in density—easily fit into a 40-yard container, with room for much more material.

How Will I Haul Away My Roll-Off Container?
So, you have filled your roll-off container with all the waste needed to clear the way for your renovation or landscaping. Great! Now, you need to determine how the full container will be taken away from your site. Options include:

  • Cable hoists—These highly durable haulers are built with high-strength, structural steel tubing. Equipped with inside and outside controls, they offer flexibility and dependability.
  • Hook hoists—These are the top choice for maneuverability and versatility. They are ideal for hauling shorter containers and retrieving them from tight spaces. Hook hoists allow a driver to retrieve a container without having to step outside the cab—removing exposure to the elements or risk of slipping in icy conditions.
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What Else Should I Know About Roll-Off Containers?
Containers are not created equal, and there are significant differences in the offerings within this market. You might not even have known there were so many choices available. Here are some good facts to know:

  • Innovation—Roll-off containers have come a long way. Rather than beef up the amount of steel in a structure for strength, some manufacturers use higher tensile strength gauge steel to maximize the payload and improve the container’s strength.
  • Disaster relief—When hurricanes and tornadoes hit, providers of roll-off containers stay ahead of the game. Some roll-off container companies deploy their services to regions hit by catastrophic weather events to streamline recovery efforts.
  • Expertise—Your job is unique. It helps to have an expert in the field of waste collection and removal on your side to offer the most comprehensive and cost-efficient solutions. Check out companies in your area, and call a representative to walk you through the process.
  • Safety and durability—It is crucial that anyone using roll-out containers stays safe. Look for these important features when choosing your next roll-out container:
  • Heavy-gauge steel—A roll-out container is only as strong as its floor and walls. Look for fully welded in-seams and rust-inhibiting primer inside and out.
  • Safety standards—The American National Standards Institute establishes safety requirements for products such as roll-off containers. Make sure you choose products that conform to ANSI standards.
  • Flexibility—The right roll-off container for your job goes a long way towards giving you the most for your money—and the safest experience. Look for a company that offers custom solutions and adaptable options for your needs.

We hope this article helps you in deciding which roll-off container best fits your needs. We have covered types and sizes, as well as features that might best accommodate the job at hand, for the duration of your task. | WA

Kirk Warren is the Director of Product Management for Wastequip (Charlotte, NC) steel containers and compactors. He is responsible for product development, product optimization and marketing of the steel product line. Before joining Wastequip, Kirk worked for 10 years on the hauling side of the waste industry as a sales manager and trainer for Republic Waste Services and Allied Waste. He can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, visit