Self-Dumping Hopper for Forklift Truck


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By 15 October 2021 Shares

Load, transport and unload heavy (waste) materials
Updated on Oct 14, 2021 | Authors: Pim Brouwer & Brent Nijssen

A self-dumping hopper is a large-capacity mobile (waste) container. The hopper can be moved around on wheels but in most cases it is lifted and transported by forklift.

A self dump hopper can be used for temporarily storing and sorting all kinds of (waste) materials. Therefore it is used in various industries such as construction, warehousing, and lumber processing to store and relocate heavy loads.

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lightbulb-light Self-dumping hopper inspiration

self-dumping-hopper-inspiration-thumbThere a many types, sizes, and variants of self-dumping forklift hoppers. On this page, you can find useful information and tips about these hoppers.

Download the Self-Dumping Hopper inspiration sheet with variants of forklift dumping hoppers.

Below we have listed the more commonly used hoppers for your inspiration.

Standard steel base hopper | McCullough Industries


The original self-dumping forklift hopper with latch release cable.

  • For light-, medium- and heavy-duty loads.
  • Widely available from multiple manufacturers.
  • Range from ¼ yard up to 6+ yards.

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Bumb release hopper | McCullough Industries


Automatic self-dumping hopper with bump release to dump on contact.

  • Roll-off container that dumps when the bumper is pressed.
  • Widely available from multiple manufacturers.
  • Dump the load and automatically return to upright position.

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Plastic lid self-dumping hopper | Roura


Hopper moddels with a plastic lid keeps the material inside safe and dry.

  • Hinged plastic lid is light-weight and easy to use.
  • Eliminate liquid from reaching inside of the hopper.
  • A plastic lid helps for odor containment.

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Low profile dumping hopper | Hippo Hopper


Self-dumping hoppers with a low profile design for restrictive production environments.

  • Available in many sizes and capacities
  • Accommodate workspaces with lower heights
  • Easier to throw waste materials into the hopper

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Chute hopper | Vestil


This type is designed for areas with limited space.

  • Fixed position hopper.
  • Empty the hopper without tilting.
  • Front door is opened with a release cable.

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Hopper with fold down front | Vestil


This type has a low-profile design and drop-down front.

  • For easy shovel loading.
  • Manual pull cable to release the drop-down front.
  • The hopper has full 90 degree dumping.

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Triple-bin recycling hopper | Vestil


Hold and dump three types of (waste) materials with this hopper.

  • Each compartment holds 1/2 cubic yards.
  • Dump each bin individually with manual pull cable.
  • Plastic lids are optional to close-off the bins.

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Dewatering self-dumping hopper | Hippo Hopper


A hopper with open design. The sides are perforated for open drainage of wet materials.

  • Collect and drain wet (waste) materials.
  • Available in many sizes and capacities.
  • Optional with removable stainless steel screens for finer screening.

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Mobile self-dumping hopper on wheels | WASTEQUIP


A portable hopper on casters for higher mobility in and around your facility.

  • Casters or wheels from semi-steel, phenolic, rubber and other materials.
  • Casters with swivel wheels for easy maneuverability.
  • Wheels are replaceable when wheels are damaged.

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Open-end self-dumping hopper | WASTEQUIP


This type of hopper has open sides, which makes it ideal for loading long scrap materials.

  • Easier for forklift handeling long materials.
  • Load and lift long wooden planks, plastic / metal pipes or cardboard sheets.
  • The open-end hopper is also called a stretch hopper.

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Front-end loader hopper | Vestil


A low-profile front mounted loader with beveled front edge.

  • Ideal for collecting and transporting fine materials, such as gravel, sand or refuse.
  • Pull the release cable to dump the contents.
  • The beveled front edge enhances its scooping ability.

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Open front trash hopper | Jescraft


This hopper is designed for easy loading flat items at ground level, it can’t be tilted.

  • Ideal for cardboard and other recyclable packaging materials.
  • Non-tilting hopper, so not meant for dumping materials.
  • For elevation and transportation of (waste) materials and debris only.

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book-duotone More about hoppers

  1. What is a self-dumping hopper?
  2. How does it work?
  3. Transit cardboard waste and scrap metal
  4. Types of self-dumping hoppers
  5. Load capacity of the hopper
  6. Steel and plastic hoppers
  7. Pros and cons of forklift hoppers
  8. Stacking the hoppers
  9. Label the hopper when used for waste sorting
  10. Safety tips
  11. Manufacturers

What is a self-dumping hopper?

A self-dumping hopper is an attachment for heavy-duty forklifts. Self-dumping hoppers look like small waste containers with two fork pockets underneath the base. The unique feature is that these containers can roll forward to empty the contents. The heavy-duty forklift lifts the self dump hopper with the forks, inserted into two full-length fork tubes, which provides maximum support. When lifted, the forklift truck can move heavy contents around in the workspace.

The hopper is used to temporarily store materials, such as cardboard waste or scrap metal, which can be dumped elsewhere. You can use them anywhere in your facility, inside or out. A forklift hopper is specially designed for forklift handling. The operator can dump the contents with a pull cable or with a bumper.

After dumping the contents the hopper automatically returns to an upright, locked position. Ready for reloading.

Vestil self-dumping forklift hopper

self-dumping-hopper-cardboard-dumpsterPlastic, metal, or steel dumping hoppers are designed for commercial and industrial use and are ideal for storing and transporting waste and bulk materials. These hoppers are available in light-duty, medium-duty, heavy-duty, and super heavy-duty variants. The plastic or steel hoppers are rugged in design, especially the all-steel hoppers. A self-dumping forklift hopper is perfectly balanced to tilt forward when full and roll back when emptied. When loaded and unlatched, it will roll on to discharge its contents, and it will roll back in its upright position when empty.

A positive locking latch prevents accidental dumping. A safety chain is attached to the heavy-duty forklift and the trash hopper keeps the hopper in place.

How does it work?

A self-dumping forklift hopper is a convenient piece of equipment for forklifts because one person can operate it. The use of a dumping hopper is fairly easy and also safe when used in the right way:

  1. Pick up the hopper with the forklift by placing the forks in the tubes.
  2. Tilt the hopper backward to prevent it from slipping off the forks.
  3. Attach the safety chain to the forklift carriage for extra security.
  4. Load the hopper with waste or scraps and transport it.
  5. Dump the contents by pulling a latch or pressing a bumper.
  6. When emptied, the hopper rolls back into its upward position.
  7. The unit will re-latch and locking itself back for reloading.

There are two release variants for self-dumping hoppers. One is with a latch or pulls the cable, and the other one is with a bumper. The cable and bumper are used to release the hopper to dump the load, for example, in a large container.


Release the hopper with a pull cable or latch

The forklift truck operator releases the self-dumping hopper by pulling a cable or latch attached to the dump hopper. By pulling the latch, the forklift dumpster rolls and tilts forward, and the loads get dumped. Some hoppers are equipped with a magnetic latch that can attach to the frame of the forklift, so the operator doesn’t need to hold the handle while driving.

Release the hopper with a bumper

A self-dumping hopper with the bumper release comes with a bumper in the front of the container. This metal plate in the front works as a button. The forklift operator bumps the plate against the side of the dumpster, and the hopper tilts forward and releases its contents. Once it is empty, it will return to its upright locked position. When the bumper can’t make contact with the side of a container, the operator can use a pull cable to manually tilt the hopper and empty the contents, all while the operator is seated in the fork truck.

In the industry they call it ‘bump and dump’.

Watch Video on Youtube: Vestil self-dumping hopper with bumper release

Hydraulic release

A more advanced release system is the hydraulic self-dumping hopper. Because of this system, you can smoothly and carefully roll the hopper forward when it is released. It will not roll forward automatically due to the weight inside the hopper.

A hopper with latch, chain or bumper release can be equipped with industrial gas springs. These springs help to smoothly and slowly tilt the hopper when it is released. The gas springs absorb the largest weight of the container when it is emptied.

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Transit cardboard waste and scrap metal


You can use a self dump hopper to transmit large volumes of waste in and around your facility.

For instance, transport high quantities of cardboard waste to your cardboard baler. With the cardboard baling machine, you can produce compact cardboard bales. These compressed bales reduce the volume of the material, so you clear up space in your facility. The cardboard bales can get sold for recycling, which lowers the company’s overall waste collection costs. Read more about cardboard recycling.

A self-dumping hopper is also ideal for retail or supermarkets when using a compact horizontal baler with a chute.

You can also use a self-dumping hopper to collect and separate all kinds of scrap metals as a scrap hopper. It is important to source separate ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metals for high quality and high valued metal recycling. Read more about scrap metal recycling.

Types of self-dumping hoppers

Common self-dumping hopper variants:

  • Standard hopper: Classic hopper with forklift tubes for collecting, transporting, and dumping large and bulky materials.
  • Hopper with hinged lid: A hopper with a heavy-duty polyethylene lid that can be opened and closed. This helps to control possible odors and secures contents. These ‘recycle hoppers’ are perfect for source separation of waste materials, such as paper, cardboard, plastic, wood, and scrap metals. A lid can also help to keep debris out of sight. It is also possible to lock the lid with a padlock if needed.
  • Hopper with casters: Transform a standard hopper into a portable hopper. Because this mobile dump hopper can be moved around the plant or facility without a forklift, the installed casters can be made of steel, plastic, or rubber. For heavy loads, it is important to use heavy-duty casters. Two casters swivel, and two are rigid for easy manual maneuvering around the facility.
  • Low profile hopper: A low profile self-dumping hopper is ideal when the height of a standard hopper is too high or when there are areas with height restrictions.
  • Open side hopper: This hopper is designed for handling materials of all lengths because the container has open sides. Ideal for transporting pipes, sheet material, and lumber.
  • Dewatering hopper: The container is perforated so that any liquids will flow away from the collected materials. Another variant of a dewatering self dump hopper is the standard hopper with a drain plug to allow drainage of fluids.
  • Dross hopper: Specially designed for collecting and transporting hot materials with the forklift. The forklift hopper can handle hot materials, and the large perforated openings allow the material to cool, which reduces the heat inside the dumper.
Self dump hopper variants

Load capacity of the hopper

Self-dumping hoppers are available in all sizes and capacities. There are very small hoppers for light work, but also large hoppers for super duty work which requires a heavy-duty forklift that can handle heavy loads. These heavy and super-duty hoppers are designed for transporting and dumping heavy scrap and waste materials, such as glass, metal, and stones.

A standard dump hopper can hold materials anywhere from 1,000 to 6,000 lbs. Please make sure the operating fork truck can lift the maximum weight capacity.

  • Light duty hopper capacity: Loads up to 2,000 lbs
  • Medium duty hopper capacity: Loads up to 4,000 lbs
  • Heavy-duty hopper capacity: Loads up to 6,000 lbs
  • Super duty hopper capacity: 6,000+ lbs

Watch video on Youtube: Uline steel dumping hoppers

Steel and plastic hoppers

Forklift hoppers can have an all-steel construction or a combination of steel with plastic. What is the difference between a steel hopper and a plastic hopper?

All steel forklift hopper:

  • Very durable construction.
  • Carry heavier loads.
  • More stability.
  • Powder-coated finishes help against scratches, chipping and rusting.

Plastic / polyethylene forklift hopper:

  • Quiet in use.
  • Light and easy to handle.
  • Rugged and functional.
  • Resists rusting, denting and pitting.


Pros and cons of forklift hoppers

A self-dumping hopper is a great piece of forklift equipment. What are the pros and cons of using a hopper?


  • Helps to keep the site clean, organized, and safe.
  • Easy to operate by one user.
  • No mechanical parts.
  • Move around high volumes and heavy loads.
  • Most hoppers are stackable.
  • Use it for storage, recycling, and transport.
  • Dump waste materials in a high-volume dumpster.
  • Relatively low investment to upgrade a forklift.


  • There are a lot of different options to choose from.
  • Requires a bit of training for the forklift operator.
  • The larger self-dumping hoppers require a more powerful forklift truck.
  • An all-steel hopper can be quite noisy when discharging contents.
  • A mobile hopper on casters can be very heavy to push manually when fully loaded.

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Stacking the hoppers

Some dump hoppers can be stacked on top of each other, saving valuable space in your facility. In general, it is advised not to stack empty units over three high. Please note that not all dump hoppers can be stacked. Please ask the manufacturer or reseller for further information.

Empty dumping hoppers can be nested three high.

Label the hopper when used for waste sorting

cardboard-recycling-label-recycle-across-americaWhen using a fork truck hopper to separate and sort waste, it is recommended to label the container to improve source separation at your facility. For instance, when you use the dumping hopper for cardboard waste, place a sticker that shows that the container can only discard cardboard waste material.

Safety tips

Watch video on Youtube: Self-dumping hopper safety training video


Which manufacturers build self-dumping hoppers for fork trucks? Listed below are a number of reputable manufacturers:

Iron Bull Manufacturing on self-dumping hoppers:

Iron Bull Manufacturing is a manufacturer of self-dumping hoppers. They made an interesting article about self-dumping hoppers. Chad Stoltzfus, from Iron Bull Manufacturing, says:

Every business strives for sustainability and efficiency. But anyone that has run a business knows that those two things can be quite difficult to achieve! That’s where self-dumping hoppers come in.


The primary purpose of a self-dumping hopper is to collect trash and scrap, similar to a dumpster. However, self-dumping hoppers are designed to allow forklifts and other equipment to dump materials without any other motors or pulleys being needed.

The self-dumping feature, plus creative designs like stretch hoppers and low-profile hoppers help you create a safer workplace, cleaner shop floor, happier employees, and a more efficient business. And the best part? Self-dumping hoppers are extremely versatile. They can be used in a variety of industries such as:

  • Manufacturing Plants
  • Large Wood Shops
  • Furniture Shop
  • Construction Sites
  • Lumberyards
  • Metal Scrap
  • Metal CNC Machining

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By 15 October 2021 Shares