Why is it called a 20 yard dumpster?

Why is it called a 20 yard dumpster?

If you’re new to renting dumpsters, some of the terminology might confuse you initially. Specifically, why do waste containers use “yard” sizes, like the popular 20-yard dumpster? This article will demystify why this naming convention is used rather than volume gallons or dimensions.

Brief History of the Yard Terminology

First, let’s look at the origin of using “yards” to describe dumpsters. Back in the early days of large-scale waste management, landfills were divided and measured Why is it called a 20 yard dumpster? out in cubic yard sections to track capacity. The yard volume metric carried over to categorizing trash receptacle sizes.

Over time as Dumpster sizes became standardized commercially, cubic yards stuck as the common unit to distinguish and market various container capacities. So the 20 cubic yard (20 CY) dumpster gets its defined identity from the volume it can hold.

What is a Cubic Yard of Space?

But what exactly constitutes a “cubic yard” that relates to dumpsters? One cubic yard represents a volume of:

  • 3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet
  • 27 cubic feet
  • 202 gallons

A 20 CY dumpster has an internal capacity of 20 times this cubic yard standard unit, which equates roughly to:

  • 4,040 gallons
  • 540 cubic feet of volume space

This interior size allows hauling significant quantities of debris to satisfy most small-to-medium waste removal jobs.

Key Traits of a 20 Yard Dumpster

While “20 yards” conveys a 20 CY volume capacity, it does not specify physical dumpster dimensions. Length, width, and height can vary across 20 yard models. But here are some typical 20 CY dumpster attributes:

  • Length – 12 to 22+ feet
  • Width – 7 to 8 feet
  • Height – 7 feet on average

There are taller 10+ foot 20 yard models that allow safely stacking more debris upwards. Lower profile 5-6 foot height units also exist for limited clearance spaces.

So when you rent a 20 yard dumpster, you can expect an approximately 12 foot long by 7 foot wide by 7 foot tall container on average, with the internal Why is it called a 20 yard dumpster? hauled load amounting to 202 gallons x 20 cubic yards = 4040 gallons.

Why Not Gallons or Dimensions Instead?

With “cubic yards” being an abstract concept to visualize, why don’t rental companies just classify dumpsters by interior gallons or exterior dimensions instead?

The consistent cube volume yard system allows easier capacity comparisons across different side, front load, and roll-off style dumpsters. It accounts for variances in dimensions by quantifying strictly usable inner space.

Advertising dumpsters by the overall length/width/height could be misinterpreted if assume it translates directly to hauling potential. Plus specifying dimensions Why is it called a 20 yard dumpster? would require adjusting every measurement permutation of the diverse models that emerge.

Sticking with volume yards allows flexibility to develop customized non-standard size and shape containers to meet unique needs.

Alternate Size Classifications

While cubic yard volume is the standard, some rental companies will complement the capacity info with gallons converted estimates. For example, marketing it as “20 Yard (4000+ Gallon)” capacity. Volume plus dimensions may also be given.

So you may encounter alternate dumpster size terminology variations. But yards remain the most prevalent and easily understood scale for classifying haul potentials by inner space amounts.

Key Takeaways and Review

In summary, the term “20 yard dumpster” reflects:

  • The internal volume capacity measured in 20 cubic yards
  • Originated from landfill sectioning but adopted as receptacle size convention
  • Cubic yards are easier to standardize than dimensions for comparing across dumpster types

This naming aligns with construction, landscaping, and other Why is it called a 20 yard dumpster? industry terminology for quantifying materials like soil, gravel, concrete, mulch, and project debris.

FAQs About Cubic Yard Dumpster Sizes

How do cubic yard sizes compare across dumpster styles?

Cubic yard volumes are consistent regardless of front load, side load, portable, or roll-off dumpster variety. A 20 CY has the same internal space capacity as another 20 CY model.

What does the yard size have to do with external dimensions?

The cubic yard rating gives the hauling volume potential but does not directly correlate to physical length/width/height. Varying dimensions can all equate to the same interior cubic footage.

How can I estimate gallons to compare yards easier?

There are online tools to convert cubic yards to gallons. Or just remember 1 CY holds roughly 200-250 gallons as an estimate for mental calculations.

Do debris type weight limits impact yard capacity potential?

Yes. “Yards” designate volume only. Excessive heavy debris weight can damage the dumpster, preventing safely maximizing the full internal CY space.


Hopefully this breakdown demystifies why trash containers rely on this “XX yard” terminology to categorize offerings. Take time to understand cubic yard conversions to get a more tangible sense of true interior capacity when selecting your Why is it called a 20 yard dumpster? ideal dumpster rental size. Whether you go for a 10 yard, 20 yard, 40 yard or other size bin, you can now better visualize the usable hauling space aligned to your debris collection requirements. Consult an expert to finalize which CY rated dumpster aligns optimally to your upcoming waste removal project needs.


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