WASHINGTON D.C., OCT. 4: Garbage rubbish truck with rear end loader parked in Washington D.C., United States taken on Oct. 4, 2009.

The advent and development of the rubbish truck

Until the Middle Ages, everyone cleared their own rubbish or put it on the street. Then a cart pulled by horses would come by to collect it. Nowadays, waste collection goes through motorised rubbish trucks. We would like to tell you more about how the rubbish truck came into being and what variants there are today.

The emergence

We have all been waste sorting and recycling more and more. It has to be done with the environment in mind. The image below shows the progression of how waste separation and collection has evolved. From putting junk on the streets to recycling, disposing of it through sewers and collecting it via motorised rubbish trucks.

Cart pulled by horses
The predecessor of the rubbish truck is a cart pulled by horses. This method of waste collection was used until the end of the 19th century. In 1910, the first ‘automobile rubbish truck’ was used in the Netherlands in Amsterdam and The Hague. Not much later in 1930, almost all ‘cart and horse rubbish trucks’ were replaced by the motorised rubbish truck.

Cracker truck
Subsequently, the cracker truck made its appearance. This rubbish truck crushes the rubbish directly, making it easier to work later in the rubbish disposal process. Rotterdam had the first squatter car in 1956.

Trump trucks
From 1970, rubbish was no longer presented in individual dustbins, but in bin bags. The drum trolley was invented for this purpose. This type of rubbish truck crushes the bags, allowing the best possible use of space in the rubbish truck.

Cliko rubbish trucks
Finally, the rubbish trucks that can empty click bins. These were deployed from the late 1970s.

Types of rubbish trucks

There are a lot of types of rubbish trucks these days. On TrucksNL, there is a spacious selection of garbage trucks, so you can find the suitable refuse truck for every kind of waste collection.

In general, there are four types that empty containers/clogs: rear loaders, top loaders, front loaders and side loaders. Each type, of course, is suitable for a different method of waste collection.

This rubbish truck is most common in the Netherlands. It can empty up to two wheelie bins via the loader at the back of the truck. The bucket of this rubbish truck works with a tipping system, this allows it to be emptied quickly when it is full.

With superchargers underground containers are emptied. A truck-mounted crane is attached to the rubbish truck that can ‘pull’ the containers out of the ground.

Front-end loaders
For a front-end loader, there is a kind of fork attached to an arm at the front. This means only one rubbish collector is needed – the driver. The disadvantage, however, is that the container must always be in front of the truck.

Side loaders
Side loaders are usually used in less urban areas. This allows the truck to continue driving while being fully loaded. Other types of waste such as bulky waste, loose small rubbish lying around on the street and plastic bags also have rubbish trucks built to handle them.

This requires a rubbish truck with a crane or pressing mechanism. The compactor mechanism is particularly handy, as it compresses the bulky waste immediately in the loading space. A disadvantage with a press mechanism is that the truck has to be loaded manually.

Loose small waste
Loose small waste is usually found on the streets such as cans, chip bags, drinks bottles and more. To clean up this waste, a rubbish truck with a hose that works like a ‘hoover’ can be used. The hose is at the top and is often also used to empty underground containers.

Plastic bags
Plastic bags have a large volume. That is why rubbish trucks with press mechanism are always used to compress the bags.


Truck manufacturers and municipalities have been developing more environmentally friendly rubbish trucks for a while now. For example, two hybrid rubbish trucks were already driving in Rotterdam in 2019.

A hybrid rubbish truck runs not only on an internal combustion engine, but also on and electric motor and a battery. The battery then lets up while driving. This happens because the combustion engine drives an alternator.

Hybrid rubbish trucks have the advantage that they create less noise. This is very beneficial for waste collection on early mornings. In addition, hybrid rubbish trucks use 15-30% less fuel and emit 20% less CO2.