Best Junk Removal Services USA: Fast & Efficient Junk Pick up

Junk removal is an essential service for many residential and commercial property owners. With the average American throwing away around 4.9 pounds of waste every single day, the amount of clutter often found in homes and businesses can quickly get out of control.

Not only does junk removal help to keep properties clean and clutter-free, but it can also save plenty of time and energy which lets you focus on more important things like relaxing, working, or planning your move to a new home, for example.

This in-depth guide will outline what junk removal is and why it’s essential (and for whom) as well as many other aspects of junk removal in the USA.

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Table of contents:

Best Junk Removal Services USA

What is junk removal?

Junk removal is the process of collecting and disposing of unwanted items from a residential or commercial property. Junk collection in the United States is commonly carried out by junk haulers that collect, sort, and haul away junk from properties for their customers.

There are many junk removal companies operating independently or as part of a franchise in cities and states all across the US. These companies haul junk away and either recycle or donate usable junk items and dispose of the remainder in landfills or an appropriate waste disposal or processing facility.

Junk removal services provide customers with convenience and help to de-clutter properties and are needed by various types of customers for many different reasons.

  • Junk removal is a professional service involving the collection and disposal of junk

Who needs junk removal services?

Many different types of individuals may require junk removal services. These include homeowners, tenants, landlords, business owners, construction and demolition contractors, property management firms and more.

Anyone that needs to get rid of junk can benefit from the convenience and cost-efficient services of a junk removal company. Most customers are aged 30+ and are often working professional careers and/or caring for a family and therefore don’t have the time, energy or desire to sort, load up, and haul away junk themselves. This makes junk removal services a convenient alternative to DIY methods of getting rid of junk.

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Why hire a junk removal company?

There are many reasons why customers may need a junk pick up service. Some examples include:

  • De-cluttering
  • Full or partial house cleanouts
  • Estate cleanouts
  • Eviction cleanouts
  • Hoarder cleanouts
  • Moving
  • Business downsizing or closures
  • Home renovations
  • Construction and demolition projects
  • Seasonal yard waste removal
  • And many more

Professional junk removal companies will come to your property to collect and sort unwanted junk, trash, or any other waste or debris, then load it onto a specially-adaptive vehicle and haul it to waste disposal facilities on behalf of their customers. This includes all heavy lifting, navigating bulky items such as furniture and appliances up/down flights of stairs, adhering to any local waste disposal regulations, and disposing of waste in the most efficient, compliant, and eco-friendly manner since there are numerous incentives for them to do so.

  • Junk removal services are flexible and versatile for many purposes

Types of junk & waste explained

What exactly is junk? Is it “another man’s treasure” as the old saying goes? There are a lot of words that we sometimes use semantically for junk, trash, waste, and all other sorts of unwanted stuff. For the sake of clarity, we define some of these common terms below:

  • Garbage: in American English, garbage typically refers to wet or organic waste from kitchens and bathrooms that can decompose somewhat quickly. Examples: coffee grounds, eggshells, chicken and beef bones, fruit & vegetable peels, garburator waste.
  • Trash: as opposed to garbage which tends to decompose relatively quickly, trash historically included any sort of discarded household waste that decomposes slowly. Generally, trash is any sort of discarded household waste, recyclable or non-recyclable. Colloquially, trash often includes many other common household waste items. Examples: cardboard boxes, newspapers, packaging, plastic bottles.
  • Junk: whereas garbage and trash typically have no value at all, junk is a type of waste that may have some value to yourself and/or to others. Junk includes all manner of discarded items that are old, in poor condition, or are no longer functional. Examples: appliances, furniture, electronics, old clothes or books, silverware.
  • Waste: a general term for any discarded items that are no longer wanted or needed. Waste can be thought of as a broad term including garbage, trash and junk. Waste can also be separated into non-hazardous waste and hazardous waste items. Examples of non-hazardous waste include: garbage, trash, yard waste, construction debris. Examples of hazardous waste include: asbestos, pesticides, paints and solvents, car batteries, clinical waste, industrial sludge.
  • Rubbish: seldom used in the United States and much more common in the United Kingdom, rubbish is more or less equivalent to what we would call garbage and trash in the US.
  • Refuse: includes anything that is thrown away or discarded. This term is more commonly used by municipal engineers and in the waste management industry.

Later in this guide we will explore in much greater detail some facts and figures about junk removal and these terms will be seen once again. For all practical intents and purposes, a typical junk removal company near you will most likely haul away junk, trash, garbage, yard waste, and/or construction debris, i.e. non-hazardous household or business waste. Hazardous waste is typically beyond the remit of an ordinary junk removal company and you will often need an EPA-licensed and specialized waste management company to haul away junk or waste that could be classified as hazardous.

For further in-depth information on junk and waste removal, we encourage you to keep reading this guide and to see our dedicated junk removal guide.

Junk we pick up and haul

JunkGator is an online platform connecting Americans with reputable, vetted and approved junk haulers near you, anywhere in the United States. All of our member partners operate independent and often small businesses, so their operating hours and services can vary quite a bit one from the other.

Members listed on JunkGator typically all provide services such as:

  • Same-day junk pick up
  • Old furniture removal
  • Appliance removal
  • Couch removal
  • Mattress removal
  • Yard waste removal
  • Shed removal
  • Hot tub removal
  • Construction and demolition debris removal
  • Junk metal recycling
  • And much more

Our junk removal process

Using JunkGator is easy and 100% free. We’ll never ask you for personal information and there’s no need to register as a customer. All you need to do is enter your ZIP code to find reputable, dependable same-day junk removal services near you.

Find out how JunkGator works and start using our platform today for affordable junk collection services for your property. Here’s how it works:

  1. 1

    Find a local junk hauler

    When you need junk removed from your property, don't waste your time calling every single junk removal company near you. Instead, use JunkGator to make the process quick and easy. To get started, click on "GET QUOTES" then enter your ZIP code. Choose one of our reliable, approved partners and request a no-obligation quote.

  2. 2

    Choose the right company

    While most haulers won't hesitate to come by and pick up an old mattress and some household trash, not all of them provide the exact same services. Hazardous and toxic waste, for example, requires the right training and PPE and thus many businesses are not qualified or experienced with hazardous waste.

  3. 3

    Sort out the waste

    If you're in need of house cleanout services, be sure to hold onto any items of value and only leave the junk behind. Sort out what you plan to keep and put it aside (notify them so they don't accidentally remove it). Don't handle any hazardous or toxic substances, especially building waste that could contain asbestos.

  4. 4

    Ready for collection

    After you've chosen your preferred junk hauler and decided on a suitable time and place for them to meet you, make sure they have safe access to and from your property once they arrive. Big jobs can take a few hours or longer, so a clear path through which they can navigate safely will cut down on time and by extension, lower the costs.

Most common junk removal methods used in the USA

There are many ways to get rid of junk in the United States, each with certain advantages and disadvantages. We can categorize the three most common methods as follows:

  • DIY junk removal: includes selling or donating unwanted junk, sorting and loading junk and waste, and subsequently taking it to a waste processing facility (e.g. landfill) for disposal.
  • Dumpster rental: common for ongoing construction, renovations and demolitions projects, dumpster rentals typically involve renting a dumpster for your property whereby the company will drop off a dumpster on your property and haul it away afterwards. You may need to obtain permits and there are often strict limitations on what can be placed inside the dumpster as well as how much waste can be put inside.
  • Hiring a junk removal company: involves a junk removal company coming to your property at a scheduled appointment time, collecting and sorting unwanted junk and waste, loading it onto a junk removal vehicle, and hauling it away for disposal.

DIY junk removal can be the cheapest way to get rid of certain unwanted items. An old sofa may be of little value to you, but a friend or family member could put it to good use, for example. Many charities will even collect certain junk from the curbside for free. The disadvantage with doing it yourself is that, quite often, items that you cannot get rid of for free need to be loaded up onto an appropriate vehicle and taken to a landfill or recycling center and you will need to pay for this as well as devote time and energy.

For many individuals, the choice often comes down to renting a dumpster or hiring a junk removal company. Some junk removal companies provide both services to their customers, but the differences between junk removal vs hiring a dumpster are worthy of consideration. In most circumstances, hiring a junk removal company is faster, cheaper, and much more convenient than renting a dumpster.

  • Hiring a junk removal company is often the most convenient and cost-effective way

The importance of eco-friendly junk removal

We generate an awful lot of waste in the United States and far less of it ends up being recycled than perhaps should be. There are many eco-friendly ways to dispose of junk and junk removal companies are incentivized to try and minimize landfill waste as much as legally possible (e.g. no illegal dumping!) to cut down on their own operating costs.

Whenever possible, junk removal companies near you will try to recycle and donate as much junk as possible, only dumping the remainder in the landfill when there are no other solutions. Donating items that can be refurbished to local charities, for example, might cost them nothing at all or they might even turn a profit on certain items like scrap metal.

By cutting down on their operating costs, local junk haulers can afford to offer more competitive prices while simultaneously offering their customers eco-friendly waste disposal solutions. This is a win for your wallet and a win for the environment, all while supporting local small businesses.

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How much does junk removal cost?

The cost of junk removal in the United States varies depending on many factors. We’ve listed many price estimates in our junk removal prices guide, but for the sake of brevity a junk removal job will, on average, cost about $233 as of 2024.

Factors that affect the price of junk removal include your location (city, state), demand and seasonality, gas prices, landfill fees, the type and quantity of waste, how much labor is required, and whether or not you need any additional services such as a property cleanup or dismantling of larger junk items like sheds, hot tubs, or pool tables.

  • The average junk removal job costs $233 in 2024

Junk removal facts and figures

Junk removal is a massive multi-billion dollar industry in the US, and the demand for junk removal will likely remain high so long as Americans continue to buy and dispose of such large quantities of junk and waste every year.

Below is an in-depth glimpse into waste generation in the United States compared to other countries around the world.

Methodology and heuristics

The below analysis was conducted by consulting reputable statistics provided free to the public by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

For the sake of consistency, all data were taken for the year 2018, the last year in which the EPA released data on waste generation. Moreover, all data were converted from metric tons to Imperial units such as pounds and U.S. tons.

What is the industry classification of a junk removal company?

In order to make estimates of the junk removal industry in the United States, it is first important to determine what is the most suitable industry category as given by the NAICS code for various types of waste collection and disposal occupations.

The below table shows the NAICS codes and sectors for industry sectors and occupational activities that most closely overlap with the tasks of a typical junk removal company:

NAICS Code Sector Index Entries
5621 Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services -
562111 Solid Waste Collection
  • Garbage collection services
  • Garbage hauling, local
  • Garbage pick-up services
  • Recyclable material collection services
  • Recyclable material hauling, local
  • Refuse collection services
  • Refuse hauling, local
  • Rubbish hauling, local
  • Rubbish collection services
  • Trash collection services
  • Trash hauling, local
  • Waste collection services, nonhazardous solid
  • Waste hauling, local, nonhazardous solid
562119 Other Waste Collection
  • Brush collection services
  • Brush hauling, local
  • Brush removal services
  • Debris removal services
  • Dump trucking of rubble or brush with collection or disposal
  • Rubble hauling, local
  • Rubble removal services
  • Waste (except solid and hazardous) collection services
  • Waste (except solid and hazardous) hauling, local
5622 Waste Treatment and Disposal -
562219 Other Nonhazardous Waste Treatment and Disposal -
562219-08 Waste Disposal
  • Residential waste disposal
  • Commercial waste disposal
  • Industrial waste disposal
  • Medical waste disposal
  • Construction waste disposal
  • Electronic waste disposal
  • Food waste disposal
  • Hazardous waste disposal
  • Recycling services
  • Waste-to-energy services
562219-10 Junk Removal
  • Residential junk removal
  • Commercial junk removal
  • Construction debris removal
  • Yard waste removal
  • E-waste removal
  • Furniture removal
  • Appliance removal
  • Mattress removal
  • Scrap metal removal
  • Paper and cardboard recycling

Source: NAICS Codes Lookup - North American Industry Classification System, siccode.com.

We found that junk removal is itself a dedicated sector under the Junk Removal (562219-10) extended NAICS classification, but data were not as readily available for this specific sector elsewhere. For this reason, we will mostly consider the sectors of Solid Waste Collection (562111) and Other Waste Collection (562119) since far more data were available with the BLS.

Although many of the specific job categories may not exactly fit a junk removal company, we found that these industry sectors provide a reasonable proxy for how the junk removal industry operates.

Waste generation in the US compared globally

How much waste do Americans generate compared to other countries around the world? The below table shows the total Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generated in the United States and the next nine highest OECD countries:

Municipal Solid Waste Generation in OECD Countries
Top 10 Highest Countryy MSW in US Tons (Millions) in 2018

Municipal Solid Waste Generation

Data source: Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, OECD Data Explorer (accessed 2nd January 2024).

By a wide margin, the United States is the country that produces the most MSW amongst OECD countries. For reference, the total estimated MSW generated worldwide amongst OECD countries in 2018 was 800,461,212 tons. The United States therefore generated about 36.53% of all MSW amongst OECD countries in 2018.

Of course, the United States has a far higher population than the other countries considered in the dataset at around 335,895,000 people, so it is also worth considering how much waste is generated per capita.

  • The United States generated 292.4 million tons of MSW in 2018

Daily waste generation per capita in the US and worldwide

The average American throws away about 4.9 pounds of waste every single day. This figure is commonly cited by the EPA and it corresponds exactly with the data provided by the OECD in 2018 shown in the figure below:

Daily Municipal Waste Generated per Capita
Top 10 Highest Country MSW in Pounds per Capita per Day in 2018

Daily municipal waste generated per capita

MSW Generated (Pounds per Capita per Day)
Data source: ibid.

On a per capita, per day basis, the average American throws away more waste than all other OECD countries except Denmark where the figure is a tie. For reference, the OECD total average waste generated was 3.2 pounds per capita per day (1180 pounds per capita per year). The average amount of waste generated per year in the United States was approximately 1789 pounds per capita per year.

  • The average American throws away approximately 4.9 pounds of waste per day

Waste streams in the US and worldwide

Not all waste is alike and much of it ends up in landfills, some is recycled or composted, and some is incinerated. Where does waste end up in the United States and in other countries?

Ranked in order of the countries with the highest recycling and composting rates and showing the top 10 alongside the OECD total and the United States, the below figure illustrates the various waste streams for each country:

MSW Streams by Percentage of Waste Generated
Top 10 OECD Countries with Highest % Recycling & Composting Compared to United States & OECD Total in 2018

MSW streams by percentage of waste generated

Data source: ibid.

Nearly half of all waste generated in the United States ended up in a landfill in 2018, while only around 12% was incinerated and around 32% was recycled or composted. The United States lags slightly behind the OECD total and significantly behind many European countries where a >50% recycling and composting rate is common and landfill waste is significantly lower.

  • Around half of all waste in the United States ends up in a landfill

Total recycling in the US and globally

Many may (rightfully) claim that the United States performs poorly in terms of recycling rates for MSW, but given the total quantity of waste generated compared to the waste generated in much smaller (population-wise) countries such as Slovenia and Lithuania, the United States does recycle an enormous quantity of waste as shown in the below figure:

Total MSW Recycling
Top 10 Highest Country MSW Recycling by Gross Weight (million US Tons) in 2018
US Tons (millions)

Total MSW recycling

Data source: ibid.

Again coinciding precisely with the EPA’s findings, the United States recycled 69.1 million tons of waste in 2018, or about 23.63% of all MSW generated in that year. This gross recycling figure is far higher than in many other OECD countries. For reference, the total amount of waste recycled in OECD countries in 2018 was 193 million tons, which means that the United States had about a 35.80% share of all recycled waste.

  • The United States recycled around 69.1 million tons of waste in 2018

Employment outlook for junk and waste collection in the US

What is the occupational outlook for junk removal professionals in the United States? There’s no doubt that the multi-billion dollar junk removal industry is booming, so it stands to reason that more and more individuals will seek employment (or pursue self-employment as a small junk removal business) in this lucrative industry.

If we are to assume that junk removal falls generally under the categories of Waste Collection and Waste Management and Remediation Services (for which data is readily available with the BLS), the employment outlook in the coming decade may be as given in the below table:

Industry Title Industry Code Employment Change, 2022-2032 (thousands) Employment Percent Change, 2022-2032
Waste management and remediation services 562000 3.8 4.3%
Waste collection 562100 3.5 5.1%

Data source: Employment Projections, National Employment Matrix, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

From 2022-2032, the junk removal industry may grow to employ around 4.3% to 5.1% more individuals. In terms of estimated numbers of job openings, Waste management and remediation services (562000) may grow from around 88,400 in 2022 to 92,200 in 2032, whereas Waste collection (562100) may grow from around 67,300 in 2022 to 70,800 in 2032.

  • The junk removal industry will likely grow to employ around 5% more people by 2032

Current employment statistics for waste collection in the US

How many people are currently employed in waste collection in the United States? For the two industry classifications we analyzed, the latest available data show employment numbers (in thousands) as per the below table:

Industry NAICS Code July 2023 Aug.2023 Sept. 2023 Oct. 2023 Nov. 20231
Waste management and remediation services 562 496.2 492.3 497.9 497.2 500.0
Waste collection2 5621 212.9 213.6 215.4 213.6 -

Data source: Employment and Earnings Table B-1a, Current Employment Statistics - CES (National), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Since Waste collection (562100) is a subset of the broader category Waste management and remediation services (562000), the numbers may be more reflective of how many individuals are engaged in junk removal activities. This would also coincide with market research data that indicates that the junk removal industry employs around 247,000 individuals.

In terms of employment growth taken over the second quarter of 2023, Waste management and remediation services saw a 0.20% increase from July-Oct. 2023 (or approximately 1,000 jobs) while Waste collection saw a 0.33% increase from July-Oct. 2023 (or approximately 700 jobs).

Over a longer span of time, BLS data gives yearly employment data for these industry classifications as shown in the below figure:

Waste Collection US Employment 1987-2022

Waste collection US employment 1987-2022

Data source: Industry and Productivity Viewer, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Over the past few decades, the waste collection industry - and by proxy we will assume the junk removal industry - has steadily grown.

  • The junk removal industry may employ as many as around 214,000 individuals

Waste collection hours worked and wages

How many hours does a typical junk removal professional work in a week and how much do they earn? Any estimates for these types of data will naturally fluctuate significantly depending on the individual’s geographic location and their specific employer, but broad data might give some insight on overall trends as shown in the below figure:

Waste Collection US Hours Worked 1987-2022

Waste collection US hours worked 1987-2022

Data source: Industry and Productivity Viewer, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Individuals employed under the Waste management and remediation services industry classification worked a total of 1,035.647 million hours, whereas those classified under Waste collection worked a total of 452.596 million hours in 2022.

In general, the amount of cumulative hours worked has steadily increased roughly commensurate to the growth of these industries in terms of employment.

To determine how many hours were worked in the past few years, we’ve truncated BLS data to the last three available years and divided the number of hours worked by true, unadjusted weeks in a year as well as adjusted by 50 weeks in a year to account for federal holidays to yield the mean weekly hours worked in the two industry classifications considered in this analysis.

See the below table for average hours worked in 562000 - Waste management and remediation services:

Year Employment (thousands) Hours Worked (millions) Mean Weekly Hours Worked (unadjusted) Mean Weekly Hours Worked (adjusted)
2020 465.4 980.78 40.42 42.1
2021 482.3 993.847 39.52 41.2
2022 495.7 1,035.647 40.07 41.8

Data source: Industry and Productivity Viewer, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Accounting for federal holidays, the average employee worked around 41.8 hours per week in 2022.

See the below table for the average hours worked in the 5621 & 56211 - Waste collection industry classifications:

Year Employment (thousands) Hours Worked (millions) Mean Weekly Hours Worked (unadjusted) Mean Weekly Hours Worked (adjusted)
2020 198.9 427.326 41.20 43
2021 209 431.76 39.62 41.3
2022 213 452.596 40.65 42.5

Data source: Industry and Productivity Viewer, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Accounting for federal holidays, the average employee worked around 42.5 hours per week in 2022. Since this industry classification may be a closer proxy to the occupation of a typical junk removal professional, we estimate that an employed or self-employed junk hauler will likely work around 42.5 hours per week.

In terms of wages, junk hauler earnings vary significantly from county to county and state to state, as well as by employer (if they’re employed). While the BLS has extensive data showing the average earnings by county, a county-by-county analysis would be far too exhaustive for this guide.

Consequently, we will only consider the average national earnings. The average 2023 (second quarter) weekly wage for NAICS 562111 (Solid waste collection) employees across the United States is $1,287 per week. Source: Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The average 2023 (second quarter) weekly wage for NAICS 562119 (Other waste collection) employees across the United States is $1,125 per week. Source: Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If we take the product of the number of adjusted working weeks per year (50) by each of these figures, the approximate yearly salary of a junk hauler might range from around $56,520 to $64,350 per year in 2022. The amount of variance by county is significant. A junk hauler in Los Angeles County, California, might earn nearly twice as much, for example. Refer to BLS data for more specific average earnings per county.

Mean hourly earnings, when taking both average national earning figures and dividing by 42.5, are approximately $26.47 to $30.28 per hour. Once again, the actual amount likely to be paid to an employee vs as a self-employed junk hauler as well as the county and geographic location can greatly affect these rough estimates. Many of the national franchises have hourly wages of approximately $15.40/hr and annual salaries of $32,022 per year for junk haulers, for example.

  • The average junk hauler works around 42.5 hours per week

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Frequently asked questions about our full-service junk pick up

How can I find a local junk removal company near me?

The best ways to find junk removal companies near you are through word of mouth from a friend, neighbor or family member or to use a free platform such as JunkGator. The junk haulers listed on this website are small, local independent businesses operating in towns and cities across the United States and their prices and services are often on par with or superior to the big national franchises.

How long does it take to remove junk from my property?

Depending on the size of your property and the amount and type of junk that needs to be removed, the job might take anywhere from a few minutes for a few items of furniture to a whole day for a large estate cleanout, for example. It is always wise to obtain a detailed quote beforehand and to ask how long it will likely take.

How soon can junk be picked up from my property?

Most local junk haulers can provide same-day or next-day junk pick up, but it’s always a good idea to call in advance and ask since they may have a busy schedule.

Should I be at home during my scheduled junk collection?

You don’t necessarily need to be at home when the junk haulers arrive, so long as the junk is accessible and they have permission to enter your property. Nevertheless, it is generally a good idea to be present if you need an in-person quote and if you need to point out which items need to be collected.

Should I sort out my junk before the junk removal team arrives?

You do not need to sort out your junk before the junk collection team arrives, but you may need to point out unwanted items to them in person. Furthermore, sorting out your junk beforehand can greatly reduce the amount of labor required which can lead to lower prices. Many junk haulers also offer discounts for curbside pickup.

Do junk haulers have insurance?

Junk haulers typically have liability insurance in the event that any accidents happen such as damage to your property when moving a large, bulky item. Your junk hauler should be licensed and insured (if required in your city/county).

What types of junk can a junk hauler remove?

Most junk haulers can remove items like furniture, appliances, electronics, yard waste, construction debris as well as ordinary trash and garbage. Generally, junk collection is limited to hauling nonhazardous waste items, so almost all ordinary household waste and junk can be collected and disposed of by an ordinary junk removal company.

Is there anything that a junk hauler won’t collect?

Most junk haulers cannot sort, handle, transport, or dispose of hazardous waste items as defined by the EPA such as asbestos, solvents or car batteries. Hazardous waste handling and disposal requires additional licenses and usually only highly specialized hazardous waste removal companies provide these services whereas a typical junk hauler cannot.

How do junk haulers dispose of my junk after it’s been collected?

All junk collected is sorted and processed in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. Since landfill fees can be high, junk haulers have an incentive to donate usable junk to charitable organizations, recycle metals and other items, and seek alternatives to landfill dumping whenever possible. Any waste that cannot be processed in alternative ways will be dumped in a landfill.

Is junk removal environmentally friendly?

Junk removal is generally environmentally friendly because junk haulers are trained and experienced in methods of landfill diversion because it saves them money to choose eco-friendly junk disposal methods. Waste in general can be bad for the environment, especially electronic waste (e-waste), so it is typically much better to avoid waste in the first place.