The Basics of Purchasing Roll-Off Containers

April 06, 2021

By: Greg Shields, Product Manager Wastequip, Steel Division

Roll-off containers have come a long way in waste management. Just because you use a roll-off container on your job site doesn't mean that just any container will do. 

Today, roll-off containers are stronger, more efficient, and more specialized than ever before. The size of the task, the duration of the job, and even the nature of the materials being hauled away all play a factor in landing on your best option.

By addressing a few questions, you can determine the type of roll-off container that can best handle your job. 

Rectangular or Tub: Which roll-off container type do I need?

Believe it or not, where you work might go a long way to determine which type of container you choose. Rectangular roll-off containers are mostly ordered in the northeastern U.S. They resemble containers you might have seen on cargo ships, made of reinforced steel to accommodate the densest and most rugged waste material. 

Tub containers are used more often in southern and southwestern U.S. They're smooth-sided and stackable, with no outer rail structure. They're ideal for signage and easy to apply decals to, depending on your job's visibility.

What size roll-off container do I need?

The amount of debris will ultimately vary from project to project. Selecting the correct size for your job site will help save you time and money. Knowing which size best accommodates each job is critical in your selection. 

10 yards
The smallest roll-off container is the most agile. Wheel it into tight spaces for easy loading of anything from simple home cleanouts to hauling away concrete and dirt. Small-scale jobs of heavy-duty material? No problem with this sleek roll-off container. Holds 2-3 tons.

15 yards
Hauling out lots of concrete or bulkier items such as bathroom fixtures? It's also a good fit for cleanouts of various types of waste, from plywood to fencing to larger metal pieces. It's perfect for the disposal of old roof shingles, paving stones, and other renovations. Holds 2-3 tons. 

20 yards
Most jobs call for the 20- or 30-yard roll-off container, capable of holding roughly six pickup truck loads of material. It features more room for landscaping tasks and the removal of rocks, sod, and trees. It's 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. Does your job require a cleanout of furniture, then a renovation, plus a landscaping makeover? Then this is the high-wall container for the job. Holds 3.5-5 tons.

40 yards
Contractors and property owners often call for the king of roll-off containers. Don’t start a building demolition without one. High walls allow you to stack waste material for removal. It’s the top choice for the biggest jobs in renovation and restoration. Holds 5-6 tons.

How long will I need a roll-off container?

That depends entirely on the job. Weather and time of year can impact how long you will need the container. Keep in mind that cold-weather regions and rainy seasons can impact your completion schedule which, in return, impacts how long you’ll need the roll-off. 

What can I load in a roll-off container?

The maximum weight permitted for a container is 10 tons, regardless of the size. 10 tons of feathers weights the same as 10 tons of bricks. However, the density is another story. 10 through 20-yard roll-off containers are ideal for heavy items like dirt, concrete, and shingles. Therefore, it's better to use a bigger roll-off container because of the load's net weight. Items such as mattresses and pallets - 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’ve 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 from your site.

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
The top choice for maneuverability or versatility. They’re 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.

What else should I know about roll-off containers?

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. For example, Wastequip’s RockBox Roll-Off Containers are made with Hardox® wear plate, which is 4x stronger than ordinary mild steel grades, while weighing 20% less and lasting twice as long as traditional heavy-duty roll-off containers. This technology provides strength you can depend on, while minimizing the weight of the container to allow for more scrap weight in the container.

Disaster relief: When hurricanes and tornadoes hit, roll-off container providers stay ahead of the game. Some roll-off container companies deploy their services to regions hit by catastrophic weather events to streamline recovery.

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’s crucial that anyone using roll-off 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. Be sure your company is ANSI certified before working with them.

- Flexibility: The right roll-off container for your job goes a long way in giving you the most for your money - and safest task experience. Look for a company that offers custom solutions and adaptable options for your needs.