Dumpster Etiquette: What you can and can't dump

Renting a dumpster for our home or business is almost like watching a magic trick. You fill a box full of stuff you don't want or need and then it all disappears. While it can be tempting to think that renting a dumpster means that anything and everything that you need to get rid of can be easily tossed as long as it fits, unfortunately there's certain things that most dumpster companies aren't equipped to dispose of.

Before you begin your project where you're removing a lot of questionable material, it's best to be upfront and clear with the company you're renting from about what you're likely to be removing from a site. Things that it's safe to throw away usually include things like yard waste, old clothing from your attic or basement, and other non-hazardous items. While some restricted items might seem rather obvious, you might be surprised by some of the things that there are restrictions upon.

Very heavy items

Dumpsters may be able to handle a large amount of refuse, however, you're going to be limited by the overall weight of the contents of the dumpster, not just if everything fits inside or not. This probably isn't a concern if you're filling up a dumpster full of lawn clippings, but if you're thinking that you can throw away a dumpster full of broken concrete from a sidewalk project, you may run into some issues. If you have particularly heavy items like lifting weight plates, car tires, bricks, mortar, or asphalt, you'll want to dispose of these in some other fashion. Their weight makes them dangerous for dumpster and landfill workers to work with.


By chemicals, we're talking about things such as strong cleansers, pesticides and solvents. Chemicals like these should always be treated with extreme care, whether in a childproof drawer in your home or if you are planning of disposing of them. Corrosive chemicals definitely should not be thrown away where they could possibly come in contact with dumpster or landfill workers. Luckily, there are several safe alternatives that allow you to get rid of your unwanted chemicals.


It's hard to imagine how something that's so small could be such a risk to put in the dumpster. The thing with batteries is that for their small size, they have large amounts of cadmium, mercury, and lead inside their shiny cylinders. When these batteries are subjected to a landfill, these chemicals come seeping out and in large amounts can create an environmental hazard. That's why even though they seem to pose little threat to the environment, it's a big problem when you don't dispose of batteries properly.


With buying a new TV or computer, it might seem like it's acceptable to toss that old one in the dumpster, especially if it doesn't work and can't be donated to anyone. The issue with electronics is their high quantities of contaminates, everything from nickel, cadmium, and mercury. Basically all the things that are concerning about batteries pertains to eWaste as well. So before you think of dumping something even as small as on old smartphone, please consider other methods of eWaste disposal and don't put old electronics in the dumpster.

Paint and solvents

The main reason behind the prohibition of paint is because of the large amounts of oil and chemicals that are in most paints. While not harmful if safely stored, paint becomes a problem for the environment when it leaks and contaminates the water supply. While empty paint cans can usually be tossed, check with your rental company to be certain empty cans are acceptable.

The good news about all these restricted items is that whatever you have that can't be accepted by the dumpster rental company, there are procedures in place where you can safely dispose of them. If you find yourself unsure about a particular item you're thinking of putting in the dumpster, contact your rental company immediately for more clarification. Either the item is fine for dumping, or maybe they can offer you a location where you can safely dispose of it yourself. When renting a dumpster, please properly dispose of all prohibited items in the proper manner for the safety of the workers and the environment.