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How Many Trash Cans & Dumpsters Do You Need For Your Event?

PopUP CleanUP has serviced a wide range of events from 150-person private fundraisers to 30,000 people street fairs. Several common questions arise as we are putting estimates together, including how many dumpsters will be needed to handle the trash and how many trash cans will be needed for the event. Because trash hauling is, far and above, the most expensive part of most event estimates with the exception of labor, many try to skimp on this which sometimes it costs more both in aggravation and expenditure in the end.

Several factors are important to consider:

  1. Does your event involve food and beverage?
  2. How many people do you anticipate coming to your event?
  3. How many waste disposal stations will you need?
  4. What is the square footage and layout of the venue?
  5. Will the vendors be producing lots of garbage for their installations? And will they be handling that on their own or expecting to use the dumpsters as well?

If your event involves food and beverage, like a food festival, you will undoubtedly be producing a lot of waste, and it will involve refuse, recycling, oil, liquid, and organics. Corporate events often have coffee, tea, bottled water, and paper products. Sporting races produce water cups and bottles, race numbers and heat shield plus orange and banana peels. Flea Markets and craft fairs produce cardboard boxes and wooden pallets and all manner of plastic wrap not to mention any food scraps and waste from food trucks.

Also, understanding how to categorize your trash is important because even if cardboard and paper are considered recycling, if they are stained with food grease, like pizza boxes, for instance, then they must go in landfills. Liquid and organics are denser and heavier than most waste (construction debris like concrete and tile excluded) and therefore weigh more and cost more to dispose of at the dump site, but take up less space in the dumpster because they tend to compress.

If your event space has multiple bathroom sites and multiple food and drink stations, you will need multiple sets of trash bins to cover each of those stations.

If your venue is exceedingly long or large in layout, you may need multiple locations for dumpsters so that the cleaning crew does not spend most of the time trekking back and forth between the dumpsters and the cans to empty them. (And why PopUP CleanUP offers trash caddy rentals for such events so that ten to twenty bags can be hauled at one time.)

If you have any kind of bar serving alcohol which tends to come in glass bottles, those bottles can be heavy (and rip trash bags if they are too flimsy) and take up a lot of space in dumpsters. Glass is also one of few materials that is redeemable for cash and can be recycled, and in many states, it is mandatory to do so. In situations where lots of liquids are being served, alcoholic or not, PopUP CleanUP offers Pour Away rentals to divert liquid from dumpsters, thus saving money from excess weight. These liquid receptacles help keep recycled materials from being contaminated as well.

As a general rule, we supply one of each type of can (trash, recycling, compost) per 30 people, but as the numbers grow bigger, the ratio can sometimes compress depending upon how many people are coming through that area at once. It’s one thing to have 10,000 festival goers at your venue at once versus 10,000 throughout an eight hour period where possibly only 3000 guests will be on the premises at any one time.

Here are a few case studies to help you gauge your needs:


For a one day food festival covering approximately 500,000 square feet and expecting somewhere between 7000-10,000 people, we supplied 75 fifty-gallon trash bins, 75 fifty-gallon recycling bins, and both a 40 cubic square foot and a 20 cubic square foot dumpster. Both dumpsters were filled to the brim by the end of the event.


For a nurses convention at the Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, we provided 50 fifty gallon cardboard trash boxes, 50 fifty gallon recycling bins, and 50 fifty gallon composting bins. We provided trash separation at both the cans themselves and at the dumpsters which were supplied by the venue.


For a night market on the Sacramento Capitol Mall, with 3500 guests, we supplied 100 fifty-gallon trash bins and both a 40 and a 30 cubic yard dumpster. The dumpsters were placed on different streets on either end of the mall so that the cleaning crew did not have to hike all the way to the end of the mall each time they needed to empty the garbage cans. We also used a trash caddy to facilitate the speed of trash removal. Because many of the vendors tried to dispose of their wooden pallets into the dumpsters, the trash hauler had to make two trips as there was not enough space in the dumpsters. We would have needed at least one more 30-40 cubic yard dumpster to accommodate the unanticipated trash.


For a branding activation for about 2000 people at The Row in DTLA which involved various stations including a spa room, a zen meditation and yoga studio, a spinning class, and some educational forums, we supplied 120 trash cans, 80 recycling bins, six 3 cubic yard dumpsters (two for refuse and one for recycling) and provided trash hauling from those dumpsters four times during a one week period. The dumpsters were located at one end of the venue and the trash cans distributed throughout not just the individualized activation spaces, but also restrooms, behind the scenes, and near food vendors. Much garbage was produced in the days running up to the one day event as many vendors, including the spa treatment center and booth decor artists generated copious amounts of packaging that needed to be broken down and removed.

In each of the above instances, a map was provided beforehand by all the clients which helps PopUP CleanUP visualize the flow of traffic and the workability of our cleaning crew moving through those spaces. Maps are critical for figuring out all the areas that should be populated with receptacles and where the dumpsters should be placed.

If you have an event with many moving parts requiring trash management and rentals, PopUP CleanUP can help take this dirty work off your hands.

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