Scania based front loader type truck

Garbage truck refers to a truck specially designed to collect small quantities of waste and haul the collected waste to a solid waste treatment facility. Other common names for this type of truck include trash truck and dump truck in the United States, and bin wagon, dustcart, dustbin lorry and bin motor elsewhere. Technical names include waste collection vehicle and refuse collection vehicle. These trucks are a common sight in most urban areas. The truck chassis and body are manufactured by separate companies.

Types of waste collection vehicleEdit

US Garbage Truck

A standard Waste Management Inc. front-loading garbage truck in San Jose, California

There are five basic models:

  • Front loaders
  • Rear loaders
  • Side loaders
  • Pneumatic collection
  • Grapple trucks

Front loadersEdit

Front loaders generally service commercial and industrial businesses using large waste containers with lids known as Dumpsters in the US.[1] The truck is equipped with automated forks on the front which the driver carefully aligns with sleeves on the waste container using a joystick or a set of levers. The waste container is then lifted over the truck. Once it gets to the top the container is then flipped upside down and the waste or recyclable material is emptied into the vehicle's hopper. Once the waste is dumped, it is compacted by a large blade called a "packer blade" that pushes the waste to the rear of the vehicle.[2] Most of the newer packing trucks have "pack-on-the-go hydraulics" which lets the driver pack loads while driving, allowing faster route times.[3]

Rear loadersEdit

Tømning af vippecontainer

14,5 m³ rear load container serviced in Copenhagen

Rear loaders have an opening at the rear that a waste collector can throw waste bags or empty the contents of bins into. Often in many areas they have a lifting mechanism to automatically empty large carts without the operator having to lift the waste by hand.[4]

Another popular system for the rear loader is a rear load container specially built to fit a groove in the truck. The truck will have a chain or cable system for upending the container. The waste will then slide into the hopper of the truck. The largest waste containers of this type can be 10 cu m. in capacity for low density waste like pagaging and food waste. These containers also have lifting lugs for handling by skip lorries.


Canberra ASL-08

An ASL garbage truck in Canberra, Australia

The modern rear loader usually compacts the waste using a hydraulically-powered plate that scoops the waste out from the loading hopper and compresses it against a moving wall. In most compactor designs, the plate has a pointed edge on its leading edge (hence giving it the industry standard name packer blade) which is designed to apply point pressure to the waste to break down bulky items in the hopper before being drawn into the main body of the truck.

The wall will move towards the front of the vehicle as the pressure forces the hydraulic valves to open, or as the operator moves it with a manual control.

Side loadersEdit

Refuse truck collecting refuse in Aardenburg April 2009

Automated garbage collection in Aardenburg: citizens collaborate by lining up domestic garbage bins at the road side on the correct day.

These trucks are loaded from the side, either manually, or with the assistance of an automated lift. Lift-equipped trucks are referred to as automated side loaders. The refuse is then compacted towards the rear of the truck.[5] An Automated Side Loader only needs one operator, where a traditional rear load garbage truck may require two or three people,[6] and has the additional advantage of reducing on the job injuries to due repetitive heavy lifting. Typically an Automated Side Loader uses specialized wheeled carts compatible with the truck's automated lift.[7]

Pneumatic collectionEdit


Volvo pneumatic collector, "waste suction".

Pneumatic collection trucks have a crane with a tube and a mouthpiece that fits in a hole, usually hidden under a plate under the street. From here it will suck up waste from an underground installation. The system usually allows the driver to "pick up" the waste, even if the access is blocked by cars, snow or other barriers.

Grapple trucksEdit

Grapple truck

Grapple truck

Grapple trucks enable the collection of bulk waste. A large percentage of items in the solid waste stream are too large or too heavy to be safely lifted by hand into traditional garbage trucks. These items (furniture, large appliances, branches, logs) are called bulky waste or "oversized." The preferred method for collecting these items is with a grapple truck. Grapple trucks have hydraulic knucklebooms, tipped with a clamshell bucket, and usually include a dump body or trailer.


Wagons and other means had been used for centuries to haul away solid waste. Trucks were first used for this purpose soon after their invention. The 1920s saw the first open topped trucks being used, but due to poor odours and waste falling from the back covered vehicles soon became more common. These covered trucks were first introduced in more densely populated Europe then in North America, but were soon used worldwide.

The main difficulty was that the waste collectors needed to lift the waste to shoulder height. The first technique developed in the late 20s to solve this problem was to build round compartments with massive corkscrews that would lift the load and bring it away from the rear. A more efficient model was the development of the hopper in 1929. It used a cable system that could pull waste into the truck.

In 1937 George Dempster invented the Dempster-Dumpster system in which wheeled waste containers were mechanically tipped into the truck. His containers were known as Dumpsters, which led to the word dumpster entering the language.

In 1938 the Garwood Load Packer revolutionized the industry when the notion of including a compactor in the truck was implemented. The first primitive compactor could double a truck's capacity. This was made possible by use of a hydraulic press which compacted the contents of the truck periodically.

Rear steer waste collection vehicle photo

Rear steer truck

1955 saw the Dempster Dumpmaster the first front loader introduced. They do not become common until the 1970s, however. The 1970s also saw the introduction of smaller dumpsters, often known as wheelie bins which were also emptied mechanically.

Since that time there has been little dramatic change. Compactor designs however, have been many and varied, one of the most popular being the traditional "sweep and slide" system where hydraulically-powered plates scoop out the waste from a loading hopper and subsequently compact it against the material already loaded. The Heil Colectomatic used a combination of a lifting loading hopper and a sweeper blade to clear and compact waste in anticipation of the next load.

So-called "continuous" compactors were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. The German Shark design (later Rotopress) used a huge rotating drum, analogous to a cement mixer, in conjunction with a serrated auger to grind down and compact the garbage. SEMAT-Rey of France pioneered the rotating rake system (also used in the British Shelvoke and Drewry Revopak) to both mutilate waste and break down large items. High fuel consumption has seen a decline in the popularity of continuously compacting garbage trucks.

In the mid 1970's Petersen Industries introduced the first grapple truck for municipal waste collection.

In 1997 Lee Rathbun, introduced the Lightning Rear Steer System. This system includes an elevated, rear-facing cab for both driving the truck and operating the loader. This configuration allows the operator to follow behind haul trucks and load continuously.




UK & IrelandEdit



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See alsoEdit



External linksEdit

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