A list of terms specific to the Waste Industry

Apartment Compactor

A small compactor setup which is usually attached to the trash chute in a multi-story building. The trash is compacted into smaller dumpsters, typically 1.5 - 3 yards, and then rolled outside for pickup.



A machine which is used to compact material into a dense cube.  Its purpose is to maximize storage space and reduce shipping costs.


Daily Cover

A 6" - 8" layer of material, typically soil or wood chips, which is put down to cover trash and garbage placed into a landfill at the end of each day of operation. This helps to mitigate odors, and keep varmints from scavenging.



Are the most common container used to collect trash and garbage. They can range in size from 2 - 10 cubic yards. There are front load style dumpsters with side pocket sleeves, and rear load style which use a bar as a pivot point in order to be dumped. Dumpsters are also known as “cans” or “bins”.


Frontload Truck

A trash collection truck with hydraulic arms that lifts a frontload dumpster and unloads its contents into the collection truck.  Once inside the collection vehicle, the trash is compacted and the truck moves on to its next stop.


Gaylord Box

A large, rigid corrugated cardboard box, which typically sits on a pallet or skid. Gaylord boxes are used for holding dense recyclable materials, such as computer paper. They can hold about 1 - 1.5 cubic yards of material. The boxes are named after the company which manufactures them, The Gaylord Container Corporation.


Hazardous Waste

Any waste, or waste stream, which is corrosive, ignitable, reactive, or toxic under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, as amended.  A waste must be tested to determine its status as hazardous or non-hazardous waste.



A specially designed facility which accepts trash and garbage for the purpose of combusting it, to produce energy byproducts, typically electricity and steam. Also known as Waste To Energy (WTE) plants, they are often located in city centers. The leftover ash from the combustion process, is processed to recover heavy metals, and then disposed of in a monofill.



A below ground facility designed for the safe disposal of solid waste in a controlled manner.  A modern landfill is constructed using a high density, impermeable liner, and other controls such as a leachate collection system to prevent liquids from the decomposition of garbage, to reach any source of fresh water, most notably groundwater and surface waters, like streams and creeks. Landfills are usually designed for a 25 - 30 year active life span. The landfill owner is required to watch over the landfill, even after it has closed, through a process known as post-closure monitoring.  Approximately 60% of all wastes generated are disposed of in landfills.


Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)

A facility designed to separate wastes into recyclable and non-recyclable materials.  Recyclable materials such as cardboard, newspaper, glass and plastics, when concentrated, can provide the operator with an economic return.  Cardboard, newspaper, glass and plastics are usually recovered in this type of facility.



A type of landfill that only accepts one type of permitted waste, usually incinerator or fly ash from a coal burning power utility.


Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

Typically the trash and garbage collected from households and commercial businesses, excluding most industrial process type wastes.


Opentop Rolloff Box

A steel reinforced box that holds large bulky items and a wide variety of heavy wastes. They are typically 10, 20, 30, and 40 cubic yards in size. These types of containers are usually found at construction sites and on renovation projects.


Rearload Truck

A trash collection vehicle that loads dumpsters from the rear.  A metal hook at the end of a long wire cable is attached to the dumpster and then hoisted to the truck to dump its contents. These are used in congested areas, like downtowns, where front load trucks are confronted with fire escapes and overhead wires.


Self Contained Compactor

A machine designed to handle wet and sloppy waste streams, such as those found at restaurants and large hotels. The compaction unit and the receiving container are both mounted on a long steel skid, which is hoisted onto a roll off truck. The entire machine is unhooked, lifted and transported to the landfill.


Source Separation

The process of segregating materials, typically recyclables, into discrete areas or containers, to promote the efficient recovery of the material.


Stationary Compactor

A machine used to compact dry wastes into an attached receiving container. The compaction unit is bolted in place, usually on a concrete slab, while the receiving box is “broken away” from the compaction unit and then transported to the landfill for disposal.


Tipping Fee

The cost or charge for dumping waste at the landfill, transfer station or incinerator. Some operators charge by the ton or cubic yard depending on the market.



An upright plastic container which has large wheels and a hinged lid. It's typically used for residential waste collection and in office buildings or multi-family apartments to capture recyclable materials. Toters range in size from 30, 55, and 96 gallons. The 96 gallon size is the most common.


Transfer Station

A facility that separates and recovers recyclable materials before “repacking” the actual waste for transportation to its final destination- a landfill or incinerator. As city and urban areas grow outward, the distance to the landfill becomes greater.  A transfer station acts as a middle hub, maximizing the disposal of wastes.


Vertical Compactor

A machine designed to compact waste into a receiving container or dumpster. The size of the dumpster is usually 4,6, or 8 cubic yards, with the 6 yard size being the most popular. These machines are found most often at fast food restaurants and small motels.      

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