Having a clear out? Whether you're buying or selling a home, you've inherited a property, or you're simply shifting some rubbish in your home, office, or garden, it's really important to dispose of your waste correctly. Disposing of waste – particularly bulk waste – incorrectly can harm the environment and get you into lots of trouble.
There are numerous rules when it comes to disposing of waste, and it can be confusing for individuals and businesses to follow. This guide to getting rid of bulk waste will help you identify what bulk waste is, and understand how to get rid of it easily and responsibly.
What is bulk waste?
Bulk waste is any item or material that cannot be donated or sold, that’s too big for a standard wheelie bin. Examples of bulk waste include:
• Domestic appliances (fridges, freezers, dishwashers)
• Soft furnishings
• DIY waste (rubble, tiles)
• Doors and windows
• Kitchen and bathroom units
• Fence panels
• Garden refuse
Councils are obliged to receive household waste without charge, but their definition of household waste excludes waste that relates to home improvement, construction and demolition work. That waste is defined as ‘trade waste’ and, in general, council sites won’t accept it. Instead, it’ll need to be disposed of at a commercial waste facility, and you’ll be charged depending on the weight.
How can I get rid of bulk household waste?
You’ll need to get rid of bulk household waste properly or there can be legal consequences – not to mention detrimental effects on the environment! Here’s a rundown of how you can get rid of bulk waste correctly...
• Donate it – several charities will accept (and often collect) good quality bulk waste items
• Sell it – consider whether your waste item is saleable
• Retailer take-back – some retailers will take back your old appliance, furniture or kitchen
• House clearance company – just make sure it’s a reputable house clearance company
• The ‘dump’ – also known as a Council Household Waste Recycling Centre
• Council collection – book a waste collection slot with your local council
• Man & van clearance – hire a specialist waste clearance contractor
• Skip hire – hire a skip, which will be delivered and collected
• Buy a skip bag – buy a skip bag or 'hippo bag', and have it delivered and collected in the same way as a skip
• Burn it – you can legally burn certain waste in your garden, but only as a last resort
Let’s look at each of the above options in more detail…
Donate bulk waste to charity
This is a great way of getting rid of waste but only if it’s safe to do so. If, for example, you’re getting rid of a sofa in good condition, a local charity may collect it for free and deliver it to someone in need. Bear in mind, all items must be safe and in a reasonable condition before charities will accept them.
Sell bulk waste
If your item is saleable, then you can advertise it, sell it and have it collected. Consider putting a card in the local shop or advertising in your local newspaper. There’s also loads of popular online sale and auction sites that might fit the bill, such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, Etsy and Loot.
Give bulk waste back to a retailer
Lots of retailers will remove and dispose of your old items. If you’re changing a fridge-freezer, a sofa, a carpet, or a mattress, for instance, check whether the supplier offers a take-back service. It’s not necessarily the cheapest option, but the convenience is hard to beat.
Hire a house clearance company to get rid of bulk waste
House clearance companies are basically second-hand furniture and bric-a-brac dealers. They’ll clear your house with a view to reselling any items of value. Their charges for clearance are usually low or even zero, but they hope to make their money by selling your junk! Clearance companies will sometimes want to visit the property beforehand to estimate the value of what’s there, and if they offer you a very low clearance price then you probably have stuff that has resale value.
Use a council dump to get rid of bulk waste
Your local council-run Waste Recycling Centre is the cheapest way to get rid of bulk waste. Just be sure to follow the rules or beware the wrath of the centre operatives! Here are some useful tips:
• DON’T hire a van – many council centres only allow vans in with the necessary permits and charges may apply. Most centres also have height restrictions to deter commercial vehicles.
• DO sort out your waste – council centres expect you to dispose of waste in designated areas, so make sure you sort your waste into separate metal, wood, rubble categories, for example, beforehand, and break down any formed cabinets and furniture.
• DO protect your car – disposing of waste is a messy business, so it’s best to cover the loading floor of your car. Use containers to transport trash if possible, too.
• DO check that your waste is allowed – check whether the centre accepts the bulk waste you’re trying to dispose of. Some centres won’t accept paint or oil, for example.
• DO avoid weekends – unsurprisingly, weekends are the busiest time for council waste centres and the queues can be painfully long. Plan a trip during the week if you can.
• DO check for charges – check if your centre charges for any waste disposal items and ask what payment methods they accept.
• DON’T forget proof of residence – you may be asked to provide proof of residence, so it’s worth taking along your driving licence or a copy of your Council Tax bill.
Book a council collection
Councils are obligated to provide collection services for bulk household waste. They can’t charge for disposal, but they can charge a modest fee for transportation. Council collections are usually good value compared to private contractors, but wait times can be long. Check for excluded items and any restrictions, such as collecting from blocks of flats.
Hire a man & van
A specialist rubbish removal ‘man and a van’ contractor will come and collect all your waste and sweep the area clean. They’ll take household and commercial waste as long as it’s not too big or heavy. We’d recommend that you get at least two competing estimates and check for reviews and testimonials.
Hire a skip
A skip is a great idea as you can fill it as you clear, and it keeps all the waste in one place. You’ll need to check on prohibited items and make sure that the ground is suitable if you are going to load heavy bulk waste, too.
Buy a skip bag
Skip bags are large, very tough bags that you use just like a skip. Once you’ve filled the bag you can pay someone to collect it using their truck with a small crane lift. Bags come in various sizes and can be purchased from the likes of B&Q and Wickes. It you want a cheaper alternative, you can use a standard builder’s bag and hire a man and van to collect it. Bear in mind, if you have to put a skip or skip bag on a public road, you’ll need a skip permit.
Burn your waste
Burning bulk waste is a last resort, but it is permissible as long as you obey the rules. You can’t burn anything that gives off toxic or noxious fumes. You can’t burn any highly flammable or explosive material, and you can’t cause excess smoke or bad smells that inconvenience neighbours or road users.
Fly-tipping is defined as the ‘illegal deposit of any waste onto land that does not have a licence to accept it’. At the local level, dumping a bin bag or mattress onto the street is annoying, unsightly, and it can cause a hazard. Large-scale fly-tipping often entails lorry loads of commercial and construction waste being dumped on private land.
Fly-tipping is anti-social and constitutes a risk to the public and the environment, and clearing it up is a huge cost to the taxpayer. It’s a serious criminal offence for which you can be prosecuted. The courts have various powers available to them to tackle fly-tipping, including imprisonment, fines and an order to deprive rights to a vehicle used to commit the offence.
To report a small-scale fly-tipping incident, contact your local council. For a larger-scale incident, report it to the Environment Agency on their national hotline number, 0800 807 060.
Getting rid of bulk waste with Rezigo
You’ll find responsible, carefully vetted waste removal companies on Rezigo. Here’s a breakdown of the tasks they can help with...
• Home clearance
• Skip hire
• Garden waste
• Garage clearance
• Fridge/freezer disposal
• Mattress disposal
• Building waste
Ready to shift your bulk waste responsibly? Click here to get up to three free quotes.