It’s relatively easy to find toys for kids who are drawn to things with a specific theme. Maybe in your home, it’s all things construction. Perhaps it’s the flashing lights and sirens of emergency vehicles.
However, if your child adores garbage trucks, the gifting options can be limited. I feel your pain.
As the mom of a child who lives and breathes all things garbage truck themed, I’ve spent more time than most tracking down the quality items on this list of the best toy garbage trucks.
How To Choose The Best Toy Garbage Truck
Even if you don’t go shopping with a specific checklist, these are the things you should always keep in mind.
Stick with toys that are made for your child’s age range. If you have a little one who is more advanced than their age in years, and you want to give them an item for older kids, double-check the labeling.
There are additional regulations for toys made for children between 3 and 6 years old. If any part of such a toy presents a choking hazard for those under 3, the toy must have a label warning of the danger (1).
Not every toy is made strong enough to cope with the rigors of play. Only toys that stand up to real-world play make our recommendation lists.
Safety concerns have been raised about some plastics used in toy manufacturing. The industry is making progress by reducing the use of some potentially harmful plastics as well as turning to environmentally preferable alternatives (2).
Wherever possible, I look for toys made from materials that have been proven to be safe as well as those which are less damaging to the environment.
Every garbage truck on our list can be driven, either by battery, remote control, friction, or good old child power.
There are also options with lights, sounds, and other features, such as opening doors, working compactors, and even a shape sorter.
Garbage trucks with accessories such as garbage cans and figures can encourage creativity and provide more play value.
The best toys are not always the most expensive. Instead of going for the garbage truck that costs the most, set your budget. Then go for the one in your price range that will give your child the most pleasure.
The Best Toy Garbage Trucks of 2020
Taking all of those points into consideration, I’ve made a list of the best garbage truck toys and gifts for kids of all ages and abilities.
1. PLAYMOBIL Green Recycling Truck
This well-built and sturdy Playmobil recycling truck comes with a recycling garbage can and lots of recyclables. There are also two figures who can stand and sit. They come with safety vests and rubber boots.
The garbage can be rolled onto the truck’s lift. Then you turn the crank, and the can is tipped up, emptying the recycling into the back of the truck. The back of the truck opens easily to retrieve the recycling.
As the truck works with other items in the Playmobil line, it is easy to add extra items to “recycle” or replace lost ones.
- Excellent for creative and imaginative play.
- Lots of accessories.
- Compatible with other Playmobil items.
- It can help your child learn about the importance of recycling.
- Small pieces of recycling can get lost.
2. Bruder Scania R-Series Garbage Truck
The 1:16 scale Scania is a big orange garbage truck made by Bruder, the German maker known for its high-quality toys.
The truck comes with two garbage cans. They can be placed on the tailgate, which can then be lifted, emptying your garbage into the rear compactor. Once the garbage is in the truck, use the compactor to squish it to the back, ready for the next load.
The truck can be emptied by lifting the rear, twisting the knob, and pushing the trash out of the back.
Other Bruder garbage cans of different colors and styles are available.
- An incredible amount of detail.
- Doors open and close.
- Unbreakable polycarbonate windshield.
- Not the most affordable.
3. Green Toys Recycling Truck
Made in the U.S., Green Toys uses recycled milk jugs made of HDPE #2 plastic to create the Big Green recycling truck. It is also free from phthalates, BPA, and PVC.
However, despite being made from plastic, it is a tough truck that stands up well to toddlers.
The truck body has three slots along each side, into which your child can sort the cardboard newspaper, bottles, and glass cut-outs. Once sorted, little ones can open up the back of the truck, tip up the body to empty it, and start again.
This is an excellent toy for practicing fine motor skills and learning how to sort the recycling.
- Dishwasher safe.
- Can be used outside.
- It’s a toy you can feel good about since it’s made from recycled milk jugs.
- The recycling items can be easily damaged.
4. Tonka Lights and Sounds Garbage Truck
With a light-up cab and realistic sound effects, the Tonka Lights and Sounds garbage truck is a modern classic. The generic garbage truck shape will work for most kids, no matter what the garbage trucks look like in their neighborhoods.
Press the buttons on the top of the garbage truck cab, and you’ll hear engine noises, reversing beepers, and cute sayings. As a bonus for adults, when the button is pressed, the sound plays once and then turns off again. It requires two AAA batteries which are included in the package.
It’s one of four light and sound vehicles with similar features. You can also buy a fire truck, police cruiser, and rescue chopper.
- Brightly colored.
- Strong construction.
- Doesn’t eat up the batteries.
- Highly affordable.
- Much smaller than the photos suggest.
5. Molto Garbage Truck
Recommended for children aged 18 months and older, the Molto garbage truck is made for curious toddlers.
Your little one can use a hook mechanism to attach the garbage can onto the rear of the truck. Then they flip the lever and watch as the contents tumble out and into the back.
The big, bright yellow garbage can is more the size and shape of a small dumpster, which makes this a realistic option for those who live in buildings with communal garbage systems.
Constructed from plastic and measuring 8 x 10.5 x 17.5 inches, this is a big, bold garbage truck made for fun.
- Good for indoor and outdoor play.
- Rolls smoothly.
- Easy to clean.
- Stickers can peel.
6. Bruder Rear Loading Garbage Truck
The second Bruder toy on our list, this Mack garbage truck comes with a pair of garbage cans to help clear up the trash. When the trash hits the back of the truck you can push it to the back of the vehicle and empty it when you get to the “landfill.”
Opening doors, fold-back rearview mirrors, and rubber tread tires all provide realistic details. That will help your little pretender feel just like the real thing. A Bruder light and sound kit can be added to the truck for even more realism, and there is also a snowplow blade add-on available.
- Has a compactor mechanism.
- Smooth machinery.
- Built to last.
- A big investment, especially if you get the add ons.
7. Brio Light and Sound Garbage Truck
The wooden garbage truck from the Brio “My Home Town” series is more than the basic garbage truck shaped vehicle you might expect.
Fitted with lights and sounds, the truck also comes with a stylized wooden driver and two wooden shapes that fit into holes in the rear.
Brio prides itself on the fact that it conducts over 1,000 safety tests on its toys every year. So, you can be sure you are giving the garbage truck fan in your life a gift that is as safe as it is fun.
- Same scale as Brio railway.
- Smooth, clean lines.
- All-wood construction may be appreciated by plastic-hating parents.
- Small for the price.
8. LEGO CITY Garbage Truck
Although not specifically labeled as such, this 90-piece set is an excellent LEGO model for beginners.
While there is some requirement for classic LEGO building, at the same time, much of the model is made from larger, pre-formed components. As a result, the model can be put together by younger children with minimal, if any, adult help.
Once built, you can attach the garbage can to the lift at the rear of the truck and tip it to empty the garbage into the truck body.
Something that I particularly liked was that one of the garbage collectors is a smiling female figure.
- Comes with two mini-figures.
- Includes “garbage.”
- A great introductory LEGO kit for younger children.
- Too basic for experienced builders.
9. Tonka Mighty Motorized Garbage Truck
This garbage truck is unusual in that it has a forward-facing mechanism that lifts the dumpster up and over the front of the truck. The garbage then falls from the dumpster into the body of the truck through a large opening in the roof.
The lifting arm is motorized and controlled by a lever on the side of the truck. Our kids particularly enjoy pushing the truck up to the dumpster, then using the lever to make the lifting arm do its thing.
The truck empties via an easy-to-use rear door, and 2 AA batteries are included.
- Working horn.
- Also has lights.
- Unlike many garbage trucks, it has a motorized front power arm.
- The power arms move extremely slow, which slows down the action for kids.
10. Ravensburger Waste Collection 35-Piece Puzzle
From the world’s best selling jigsaw brand, the waste collection puzzle by Ravensburger is made specifically for the little hands of garbage truck lovers.
Each of the 35 pieces is a unique shape and precision cut, so they fit together smoothly. Rather than the traditional peg and hole style shape found in the majority of jigsaw puzzles, these pieces have curved edges that butt up against each other.
The puzzle edges are fixed in a frame around a shallow tray into which the pieces fit. Consequently, little ones do not have to start the puzzle from scratch.
- Thick cardboard pieces.
- Designed to prevent frustration.
- It has an anti-glare surface.
- It doesn’t come in a box, so kids don’t have a picture of the completed puzzle to help them.
11. Garbage Trucks Wall Decals
These easy-to-apply garbage truck wall decals will brighten up any little one’s room.
Included in the set are three different style garbage trucks, three square plastic style garbage cans, two traditional metal style garbage cans, one dumpster, and 15 feet of straight gray road.
Printed with odorless, water-based inks, the decals are made from fabric rather than the vinyl that is used for the majority of similar items.
The decals can be taken off of the wall and reused as many times as you like, and they do not leave any sticky residue or marks.
- The decals are good sized at 16.8″ long and 7.7″ high.
- Peel and stick, so they are easy to apply.
- Will not stay on textured walls well.
12. Friction-Powered Garbage Truck
This friction-powered garbage truck comes as a kit, with a toy screwdriver so your child can put the truck together themselves.
The pieces are large, so the assembly is not complex, and there is an instruction book and a YouTube video to guide you through each step.
The kit has a deck of cards, each of which has a different waste item printed on it. These cards are then put into the different garbage cans, and if your child needs help sorting out the garbage and recycling, there is also a booklet to help them learn.
- Working lights.
- Functional grabber arm.
- It can be a great educational tool because of the assembly that is required.
- The noise this vehicle makes sounds more like a siren on an ambulance than a garbage truck.
13. DEERC R/C: Take Apart Garbage Truck
A chunky plastic garbage truck designed for those over 3, this R/C model comes with a garbage can, two figures, a wrench, and a power drill.
The power drill is battery powered. Along with the wrench, it can be used to undo and remove the screws in the center of the wheels and the roof of the truck.
The remote is a steering wheel style controller and works within a range of up to 65 feet, and the vehicle drives at up to 2.5 miles per hour.
- Built-in music and sounds.
- Also has lights.
- It makes realistic sounds.
- Requires a total of seven batteries.
No Garbage Toys Here
You might have a toddler who’ll enjoy the garbage truck shape-sorter. You may have a tween who’ll get a kick out of the R/C model, or a grown “child” who needs a garbage truck for their LEGO city.
If you have a garbage truck fan in your household, any of the items on this list should likely be a hit.