A Guide To Selecting The Best Garbage Truck For Your Waste Hauling Business

June 11, 2023
4 min read

When starting a waste hauling business, one of the first steps you need to take is to decide what type of garbage trucks to use. 

There are several options to choose from and the type that is right for your business will depend on your budget, scale of your operations, and type of waste you’ll be hauling. 

Below, we outline the main types of trucks available so that you can understand and compare your options.

4 Main Types of Garbage Trucks

1. Roll-Off Trucks

Roll Off trucks are the most commonly used garbage trucks in the United States. Often called dumpster trucks, they are used to transport open-top waste containers (dumpsters) to and from the assigned collection and drop-off points. 

Containers are loaded and unloaded from the truck using wheels, meaning they are literally rolled on and off the truck bed.  

Roll Off trucks are popular for waste hauling companies as the containers can carry a large volume of waste. However, they do have weight limits so the type of waste being collected must be considered. 

Because of their large capacities, roll-off trucks are great for transporting industrial and commercial waste to landfills or recycling facilities. They are not suitable for residential purposes or door-to-door waste collection.

2. Front Loader Trucks

Front loader trucks have forklifts at the front of the truck that slide into containers, lift them, and then tip them into the rear hopper. Waste is collected and compacted in the hopper by a hydraulic packer. Because of this design, front loaders are able to collect garbage in tight areas, like narrow streets, with minimal labor from operators. The driver typically only needs to get out of the cab if the container has a locked lid. 

However, it’s important to note that because the container is moved over the cabin of the truck, some waste can fall out before it reaches the hopper. Operators also need to pay attention to overhead objects, like cables, and avoid them. 

Front loaders are more costly to acquire initially, but they deliver a great return on investment as they require only a single operator, unlike rear loader trucks, which we discuss in the next section.

3. Rear Loader Trucks

Rear loaders are more affordable than front loaders, making them a common and popular option for waste hauling companies.

As the name suggests, these garbage trucks feature a loader at the back for collecting waste. Depending on the truck model, operators either need to manually throw garbage bags into the loader or the truck will have a lifting mechanism for lifting and tipping waste containers. 

Rear loaders require both a driver and someone to handle the waste containers or garbage bags. The driver drives or backs up to a collection point and the second person positions the containers onto the lifting mechanism or manually dumps waste into the loader. 

4. Side Loader Trucks

Side loader trucks are generally used in the residential sector. These trucks feature a mechanical arm on the side of the truck that collects and tips garbage bins into the hopper. The trash is then compacted toward the rear of the hopper. 

Like front loaders, modern side loader trucks are great for waste hauling as they can be operated by one person. 

How To Choose The Best Garbage Truck For Your Business

To select the right garbage truck for your waste hauling company, you first need to establish who your customer base is and the demand for your services. How many collections and drop-offs do you need to perform per day, week, and month? This will help you determine what load capacities you need and the number of trucks to purchase. 

The type of client is also important to consider. Is the focus on residential waste, commercial waste, or both? If you’re targeting the residential market, then side loader trucks are likely the best option. For commercial waste hauling, consider roll-off trucks, front loaders, or rear loaders.  

Then, look at how much money you have to spend on your fleet of garbage trucks. This will determine if you can get new or used trucks or if you need to opt for more affordable options like rear loaders as opposed to front loaders. 

However, you also want to consider the long-term costs. A garbage truck that requires multiple operators will end up costing more over time due to the additional labor. Because of this, you may want to pay the higher upfront cost of a single-operator garbage truck.

Final Thoughts

As a business, it is important to consider the short-term as well as long-term costs involved in choosing the best garbage truck. You also need to be aware of who your clients are and how many clients you are going to be servicing to ensure you choose garbage trucks that are suitable for your business. 

In general...

  • If you’re starting a commercial waste hauling business, front loaders are a great option – they are efficient, easy to operate in tight spaces, and can handle light and heavy loads as well as various container sizes.
  • If you're starting a residential hauling business, rear or side loaders are a great option – rear loaders will likely be the more cost effective option.
  • If you're starting a construction hauling business, roll offs are a great option as they are most suitable for hauling construction material.

To manage your fleet of new garbage trucks effectively, check out Basestation, a software solution built for waste haulers to save time, stay organized, and reduce administrative headaches. With route optimization, asset tracking and a drive app for communication, you can effortlessly streamline your waste hauling business.