A skip (sometimes known as a skip bin) is a huge open-topped rubbish container that is meant to be loaded onto a certain type of vehicle. The phrase is predominantly used in English spoken in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. A dumpster or rubbish box is an approximate North American counterpart.

skip truck technical drawing

Skip bins require a special skip truck to lift , transport and drop off at required location. Skip bins usually have a particular shape: the longitudinal cross-section is either a trapezoid or two stacked trapezoids. The smaller edge of the lower trapezoid is at the bottom of the skip bin, while the longer edge is at the top. The smaller edge on either end is lower, making loading easier. It has the narrower edge at the top where there is an upper trapezoid. There is a sloping floor or wall at each end of the skip bin. Chains are normally linked to two lugs on each side of the bin, allowing the heavy skip bin to be hoisted onto and off a skip lorry or skip truck. A special skip-carrying vehicle or crane is utilized to transport the skips.

These skips are known as ‘drop-door skips’ because one end of the skip has a huge door that swings down to facilitate hand loading and unloading. Skips are typically strong and resilient, designed to survive heavy usage by tradesmen and laborers. Skip bins come in a variety of sizes, ranging from small 2-yard mini-skips to massive 40-yard roll-on/roll-off skips, depending on their intended application. Despite the fact that these big bins can hold many tonnes of rubbish, most truckers are only capable of transporting roughly 8 tonnes (8,000 kg) of debris.

When empty, a typical small skip weighs around 250 pounds (550 lb).

skip bin orange

Skip bins come in a variety of shapes and sizes:

Open skips are prevalent on construction sites because they make loading waste stuff simpler.
Closed skips are safer to use since they prohibit illegal access. They make sure that the waste volume does not exceed the limits allowed.

Open skips are identical to roll-on/roll-off (RORO) skips, except that instead of being hoisted onto a skip loader wagon by chains, they are rolled onto a wagon with a hook. They’re more commonly used for industrial purposes and aren’t ideal for home use. (For further information, see Roll-off.)

Mobile skip bins are normally mounted on a four-wheeled trailer. The skip is loaded and unloaded from the trailer using a lifting device. In Australia, standard sizes are 3m3, 4m3, and 6m3. For bigger waste management projects, sizes ranging from 8m3, 10m3, and 12m3 are also available.

Skips are commonly used to hold open-topped loads of construction and demolition waste, garden waste or other waste and litter types. The construction debris may originate from a building, renovation, or demolition site; building supplies can be delivered to a site in a skip that is later used to remove waste. Skips are also used for various cleaning-out jobs that need much material to be taken away, and at factories producing large quantities of scrap metal. The material in the skip may be taken to a landfill, recycled or recovered/disposed of in some other way. There are wide range of uses of skip bins including construction building, home renovations, handyman maintenance or repair projects, garden or green clean up.

Skip hire companies typically print ‘level fill’ on the sides of skips to instruct users that the contents should not fill or have contents showing above the height of the sides of the skip. This is in part for safety so that contents do not fall out posing a risk to passers-by, and is also aimed at maximising revenue for the skip hire company. Many tradesmen and builders will make use of what are termed ‘greedy boards’, old doors and other scrap sheet based material, to artificially heighten the sides of the skip and thus get more value for money for tradesmen or builders. If they do that, the skip bin hire provider will charge them an extra fee as the skip will be overloaded.

Domestic skip sizes and uses

1½m3 – mini-skip

  • Approximately 25-35 black bin bags
  • Ideal for small kitchen refurbishment
  • Economical choice for garden/household waste
  • Fits on most driveways and gardens

3m3 – midi skip

  • Approximately 45-55 black bin bags
  • Perfect for small kitchen refurbishment
  • Economical choice for garden/household waste
  • Fits on most drives and gardens

4.59m3 – builders’ skip

  • Approximately 60-70 black bin bags
  • Perfect for refurbishment projects
  • Ideal for house/attic clearances
  • Fits approximately 6 tonnes (5.9 long tons; 6.6 short tons) of soil & stone or hardcore

6.12 m3 – large builders’ skip

  • 80-90 black bin bags
  • Size of large family car
  • Ideal for all construction jobs or large hour or garage clear-outs
  • Fits approximately 8 tonnes (7.9 long tons; 8.8 short tons) of soil & stone or hardcore