Saturday, 18 January 2014

How much rubbish fits into a rubbish truck?

Most people I know don't like rubbish very much. They think it's smelly and ugly and they don't want anything to do with it. They also don't like the rubbish men. My granddad says they're all gypsies and foreigners. I should mention that my granddad is not a very nice person. He sometimes goes on rants for a whole day. He also says rubbish men smell like the work they do.

I think rubbish men are great (although I don't mention this to my granddad). Their job is really smelly and dirty, but they are very efficient and leave empty rubbish bins for people to put more rubbish in. Their trucks are pretty cool too. I once got to ride on one of them and thought it was awesome! (My mom thought I had been kidnapped and got really angry with me. I was grounded for a week, but it was well worth it...)

Anyway. I think it's pretty amazing that rubbish trucks can load such an enormous amount of rubbish, so I wanted to find out how they do it. I also wanted to know where the rubbish goes. I know that my mom is still a bit angry with me for getting onto the truck, so asking her was out of the question.

I did a little research instead.

It turns out there are quite a few different types of rubbish truck. Not all of them are in use in the UK, but they are all pretty cool. ASL ones (automated side loaders) pick up your rubbish right from the sidewalk, and they just need one driver who also operates the system. Then there's normal container ones you'd normally use for skip hire, and front loaders (FEL). Grapple or Clam trucks can pick up small stuff from the side of the road, and rear loaders (REL) come with a nice automated press (or compactor) at the end.

The most common 'refuse' truck (that's how you would call rubbish if you're posh) in our country is probably the DENNIS Elite or Eagle Elite (that's the one in the picture). It's yellow or orange and comes as a medium sized side or rear loader.

Check out this video I found on the different types of trucks (mostly US trucks- but still very cool):

A normal rubbish truck can hold anything between 12 and 14 tons of rubbish. I think that's quite a lot. Especially cause the rubbish men have to stop at around 800 houses to fill it all up. The compactor at the end compresses the rubbish into tiny packages (or cuts it to bits - depending on the type) and then slides them back into the main body of the truck.

At the landfill, the rubbish gets emptied, further compressed and filled in, burned or recycled. In the UK, we have already filled 109 square miles with it. I think that's way too much! Our biology teacher says it's about time we all did a bit more recycling if we want to save the planet...

Here's a really interesting video about rubbish routes in London, with a little bit of information on landfills from the BBC website:

My parents think it's a bit strange that my favourite day of the week is rubbish day. But I think we should all be a bit more friendly with our rubbish men. Most people only know that rubbish needs to be put out on a Thursday (at least in our council area). But they never really want to know where it goes...

There are lots of amazing things people can do with rubbish, and some rubbish can be quite useful. If you want to find out more about this and how to re-use stuff other people throw away (it's called 'upcycling), then check out this cool makers' website:

If you want to know more about the different types of recycling in your area, click here. You can also read up on recycling and how to reduce your rubbish with

I took the recycled earth image from an Australian Unilodge website, the rubbish truck pic came from Trucktrader. The gypsy woman was painted by an unknown Polish painter and can be found on Wikipedia.