Finding the right garbage truck for your fleet needs

May 18, 2022

For those getting their start in the waste handling and removal industry, the range of different garbage truck types available — including front-end loaders, side loaders and rear loaders — can certainly be cause for confusion. By developing a familiarity with the most popular types of garbage trucks, what sets them apart from one another and what collection scenarios each is best suited for, industry newcomers and seasoned veterans alike can make more informed decisions about which trucks might best serve their fleet needs.

To gain more knowledge on the topic, consider these three leading garbage truck types, along with some useful details regarding their features and functions, plus which waste collection and removal scenarios they are typically best suited for:

Front-End Loaders

As the name implies, front-end loaders are designed to pick up waste containers and bins from the front of the vehicle, lifting them up and over the truck’s cab to put collected waste materials into the vehicle’s rear hopper. Because these garbage trucks can drive directly up to a refuse container and lift it with the vehicle’s hydraulic arms, they offer high levels of efficiency when it comes to minimizing the space required to use them. This makes them popular in big cities, where narrow streets and tight pickup spaces can present considerable challenges. 

Because they can allow for containers to be picked up and emptied by a solo driver without ever having to leave the vehicle’s cab, these trucks also serve to minimize the manpower and minimize the time needed for a collection route. Further, they’re typically capable of lifting/dumping very heavy containers from industrial and commercial sites, and can accommodate large amounts of trash. For example, Wastequip brand Amrep® — the nation’s premier garbage truck body manufacturer of front-end loaders, side loaders, roll-off hoists and trailers — builds front-end loaders that offer an 8,000-pound lifting capacity and can collect up to 40 cubic yards of waste. All of those can be compacted down with a built-in packing system to increase load and trip efficiency.

Side Loaders

The type of truck typically used for collecting residential waste, a side loader is designed to pick up and empty waste bins, cans and carts from the vehicle’s side, often collecting them from along a curbside. These trucks are sometimes equipped with automatic robotic arms that can be controlled from inside the cab, allowing for a single operator to collect the trash — and reducing the manpower needed to cover a trash-collection route. A typical side loader can collect trash and/or recycling from more than 1,000 homes in a single day.

These trucks vary in size and capacity, with the average standard side loader able to collect around 1.5 tons of compacted trash and hold up to 28 cubic yards of waste and/or recyclables. One leading example of a higher-capacity side loader, Amrep’s HX450 Automated Side Loader garbage trucks, offers automated models with capacities ranging from 30 to 36 cubic yards — and are capable of servicing up to 1,200 homes per route. 


Rear Loaders

With a sizable opening at the back of the vehicle for the easy collection of waste and/or recyclables, rear loaders are known for their versatility — as they’re typically able to service both commercial and residential trash-pickup customers. Another big benefit of rear loaders is that their lifting mechanism doesn’t have to clear the vehicle’s cab or hopper ceiling to collect a waste or recycling container’s contents, making them a good option in places with an abundance of overhead cables and wires that must be avoided. They’re also a good fit in urban environments, as they are relatively easy to maneuver for waste pickup in small alleyways and other tight spaces. But, delivering a potential downside in the area of workforce efficiency, rear loaders typically require two workers to cover a collection route: one to drive the truck and another to dump bins and containers’ contents into the hopper (or push containers to the back of the hopper for automated pickup).

Most rear-loading garbage trucks can cover around 850 homes before heading for the dump, with hauling capacities of up to 35 cubic yards. Amrep’s HX450, the strongest and most reliable rear loader available on the market, can collect 25 to 32 cubic yards of waste or recyclables before it has to be emptied.

A trusted provider of built-to-last waste industry solutions

Known for building solutions that drive the refuse industry forward, Amrep offers its customers refuse equipment of the highest quality, unrivaled customer service and support, easy-to-attain replacement parts and repairs, and custom fabrication for specific needs. 

To extend the working life of its vehicles — even in a broad range of harsh conditions and environments — Amrep incorporates Hardox® wear plates in the truck bodies of its front-end loaders, side loaders, roll-offs and rear loaders. In fact, Amrep is among the first garbage truck body manufacturers in North America to use genuine Hardox® wear plate steel in the entire body shell. This hard, tough steel resists wear, extends the life of the truck body and saves waste-collection companies money over the long haul.

And because vehicle troubles can still arise despite all of a waste-collection company’s fleet-maintenance efforts, Amrep’s Ready Truck program is designed to reduce downtime and keep fleets up and running. To help maintain the high levels of service that customers expect, the program offers immediate availability on a variety of chassis options, along with competitive financing.


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About Amrep

In early 2019, Amrep, a leading manufacturer of front load and automated side load refuse trucks known for its high levels of quality, service and customer commitment, proudly became part of the Wastequip family of brands. Wastequip is the leading manufacturer of waste handling equipment in North America — offering steel and plastic products, systems, and solutions to help municipalities and waste haulers collect, store, transport, and manage a wide range of waste and recyclables. The company’s family of brands also includes Accurate™, ConFab®, ContainerPros®, Galbreath®, Mountain Tarp®, Pioneer™, Toter®, Wastebuilt®, Wastequip®, Wastequip WRX™ and wasteware™. To learn more about Amrep waste-collection vehicles and Amrep/Wastequip financing options, visit and

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