Bulky Waste Collection Guide
Bulky waste collection guide: the ultimate guide on how to dispose of rubbish, waste and junk that is too big for your dustbin
If you need some bulky waste removed, this guide is for you! This blog post covers everything you need to know about bulky waste collection, including the different types of collection available, how much they cost, what types of waste they are best for, and how environmentally friendly they are.
Definition of Bulky Waste
Before we start, what sort of rubbish are we are talking about? Bulky waste is any waste you cannot fit in the bin. It includes clean bulky junk like furniture, large appliances, cardboard boxes and packaging and messy, dirty rubbish like home improvement rubbish, builders & DIY waste, and garden refuse. You can read a more detailed definition of bulky waste here.
The 9 Types of Bulky Waste Collection
There are 9 types of bulky waste collection. Numbers 1- 5 cost money. But 6-9 are free but sadly only available for a few very limited types of bulky waste!
1) Council bulky waste collection service (typically not available for builder/DIY or office/commercial waste)
2) Man & Van waste collection contractor (loading and sweep up included)
3) Skip hire (labour not provided - you do the loading)
4) Hippo bag (labour not provided - you do the loading)
5) Grabber lorry (only relevant for large multi-truckloads of waste)
6) Scrap metal collector (like man & van, but only for metal)
7) House Clearance or Office Clearance company (only relevant if majority of items can be reused)
8) Charity collection (only relevant if items are in good condition and can be reused)
9) Donation to an individual (only relevant if items are in good condition and can be reused)
Let's look at each solution in a bit more depth. But before we do, please note that this article discusses the collection of bulky waste generally. If you only have one specific type of waste to get rid of (eg. mattress, sofa, paint), we recommend scrolling to the end of this article to see if one of our more detailed collection guides for individual types of junk would be more helpful.
1) Council bulky waste collection service
Almost every council offers their residents (but not local businesses or trades people) a collection service from the home for the disposal of their unwanted household items that are too big for the regular bin. This service sits alongside the standard weekly or fortnightly domestic refuse collection service, is chargeable and needs to be booked.
Although normally quite cheap (for example, the average price charged to remove a single item of furniture is £28), the council bulky waste collection service is quite basic. In particular, the vast majority of council services:
- only collect items from outside the property;
- are limited to a maximum number of items;
- exclude messy, builder/ DIY style waste likes bricks, rubble, soil and plasterboard; and
- response times are slow - expect to wait between 1 and 4 weeks to book in your collection
For more detail on what your own council offers, visit your local council's website. If you'd like to see how your council compares to other across the country, read our review of council bulky waste collection prices in England. And, for those of you who live in London, we also have a deep dive into London council bulky waste collection services.
2) Man & Van waste collection contractor
Using a man and van waste contractor (sometimes called a waste carrier) is the second most popular way to have bulky waste collected. Similar to the council service, man and van waste contractors come to the property, load up your bulky waste and take it away for the disposal. The main advantages to using a private contractor rather than the council for your bulky waste collection are:
- faster speed - you won't need to wait weeks. In fact it's normally pretty easy to arrange a collection on the day of request
- narrow arrival window - unlike your council service which is typically something like "your collection is booked for next Tuesday, please ensure all items are outside the property by 07:30", if you use a private contractor you can specify a much more specific collection time. This is very helpful if you live in a property with limited outside space or need to be on-site when the collection team arrives (eg. to specify which items are to go and which are to stay).
- remove all types of waste - private contractors will take clean and messy waste (ie. builders rubbish, garden refuse), whereas most council services are limited to clean, household items like furniture and appliances.
- collect from anywhere on property - there is no need to place the junk outside your property before collection. Their teams can clear it from anywhere on the property, including taking it through your house from the garden. In fact, many teams carry dustsheets to protect your carpet for this very reason. But remember to check the collector you use has proper insurance and ID (note: all LoveJunk approved collectors are insured and ID verified)
- businesses and tradespeople can use it too - unlike the council service which is only available to residents, private contractors will work for anyone.
How much does a man & van collection cost?
The cost of a man and van collection using a private waste contractor depends on:
- the type of bulky waste you have - heavier tends to cost more
- the quantity of bulky waste you have - more volume, higher price
- ease of loading and access to the bulky waste - outside is cheaper
- how soon you need a bulky waste collection - urgency or
- time of day / flexibility on when exactly it can be collected -
Check out our price gallery to see loads of man & van collection jobs to get a sense of how prices vary. For a deeper understanding of what drives prices, read our Price Guidance which also has links to detailed price guidance for different types of bulky waste with example photos and commentary.
3) Skip hire
Another popular option for having bulky waste collected is hiring a skip. You order the skip. It gets delivered a few days later. You fill it up with your rubbish. You contact the skip company. They collect it.
Skips work really well when you want a big container to store all your rubbish while you carry out some reasonably major home improvement work over a period of time. They are particullarly good for dirty, messy waste like soil, bricks, rubble or tiles because they keep it all in one place.
On the downside, skip hire is VERY expensive. In fact, depending on where you live and the type of waste you are disposing of, hiring a skip is likely to cost 50% - 150% more than using a man & van waste contractor to remove the waste instead. This is partly because the skip vehicle comes to your site twice - once to drop it off and once to pick it up. Which means it has a higher logistical cost than a man & van that only comes once, loads up and leaves.
In addition to the basic skip hire price, if you don't have a driveway or some place off road to put the skip, you will likely also need a skip hire permit from the local council (created by councils to stop skips from being left in the road forever!). Plus, if you your road is a controlled parking zone, you will also have to pay extra for a bay suspension. In parts of London, the combined cost of a skip permit and CPZ suspension can exceed £200 per day!!
Skips come in various sizes. The sizes tend to be described by skip companies in terms of their volume in cubic yards (~ cubic metres but a little smaller!). The main sizes are 4 cubic yards, 6 cubic yards, 8 cubic yards and 12 cubic yards. The most popular by far is a six cubic yard skip, sometimes referred to as a builders skip because it is used so frequently by builders. A six yard skip takes up a space about the size of a small car and can hold aboout one small van load of rubbish. Prices vary but as a rough guide expect to pay £250 - £300 inc VAT to hire a skip for a week or so. This cost is before any skip permit and CPZ suspension fees.
Wait & load service for skips
Most skip hire companies offer a 'wait & load' service. This is when a skip is delivered and the skip lorry driver waits while you load it up. Then leaves immediately. It's sort of like a man & van collection in the sense the vehicle only comes once. But the major differences are that the lorry driver does not load the waste (or indeed provide any sort of labour) and the cost of the skip is fixed, regardless of how much you fill it.
In practise, wait & load skips are almost exclusively used by builder contractors and fitout businesses at locations where placing a skip for any length of time is almost impossible (eg red routes) or where a large amount of waste needs to be removed in a very short period of time. The contractor has a team of people on site who load up the skip in a few minutes and then it is taken away to be replaced by yet another empty skip a few minutes later. Similar to grabber lorries discussed later, wait & load is included in this article more for completeness than relevance, because it really only used by 'professionals'. That said, when your builder starts drowning you in jargon, it's always nice to have a bit of insider knowledge 🙂
Waste types prohibited in skips
Unlike man & van waste collections which tend to allow pretty much all types of waste except very hazardous, most skip companies DO NOT allow the following type of bulky waste: mattress; fridge; eletrical appliance; domestic refuse; plasterboard; paint.
4) Hippo bag or skip bag
A Hippobag (sometimes call a skip bag) is a strong, bulky plastic bag that is used like a small skip. You fill it up with your bulky waste, then pay someone to collect it. Like skips, hippobags are well suited to loose, dirty heavy waste because they help contain it all in one place without the rubbish falling out onto your drive, garden or carpet.
Hippo bags come in three different sizes: 1 cubic yard, 1.5 cubic yards, and 4 cubic yards. You can buy the empty bags from most major DIY chains and builders merchants.
Once filled, a Hippo bag can be collected by Hippowaste (the company that makes the bag) or by any private waste contractor. Hippowaste charges £145, £175 and £245 (including VAT) respectively to collect their three bag sizes. They only collect if the bag is placed within easy reach of the road because they use a hoist to lift up the bag and they also limit what you can put in a Hippo bag.
A cheaper alternative is to pay a licensed man & van waste collector to collect your hippo bag. Unlike Hippowaste, they can remove the bag from anywhere on the property and you can also ask them to leave the emptied bag behind so you can reuse it next time. Cost of collection depends on size of bag, type of waste, urgency, time/day of collection, and location. For loads of price photo examples visit prices for Hippo bag collection.
5) Grabber lorry collection
A grabber lorry collection is used for very large bulky waste jobs. Think fly tipped waste filling a car park or removal of waste after the demolition of a house. A bit like the old amusement arcade games where you try to control a digger to select your cuddly toy, the grabber lorry is a big mechanical arm that scoops up loose waste from the ground and empties it into the back of the lorry. Then, when the lorry is full, the driver takes it away to empty it at the disposal facility.
Rates are typically by the lorry and include a minimum tonnage. Once that tonnage is exceeded (eg. 2 tonnes), the extra weight is charged at a rate per tonne. For example, £250 for the lorry, grabber and first 2 tonnes, plus £150 per tonne for every tonne over.
Grabber lorry collection is included here more for the sake of completeness, rather than as something that a householder would actually use directly. Providers of grabber lorries, a bit like providers of scaffolding services, tend to work best with very experienced tradespeople, contractors and builders. But if you are ever involved in a job where someone is quoting you multiple man & van truckloads, it's always worth asking the question - would a grabber lorry be a good alternative to this situation? As they typically work out a lot cheaper for scale jobs.
6) Scrap metal collectors
Scrap metal collectors are waste collectors who specialise in the removal of metal waste. Because metal has a value, their business model is about collecting for free (or in some circumstances actually paying to collect), rather than charging customers for the collection.
Therefore, if you have bulky waste that is metal, you should be able to get it removed by a scrap metal collector for free and may even get paid for it (expecially if you have large amounts or lots of copper or brass). On the other hand, scrap merchants really are only interested in metal. So, don't expect them to want to take your more general waste at the same time! This will need to be collected through another route.
Popular scrap metal household items
The most popular scrap metal items coming out of homes are large domestic appliances (eg. washing machine, dishwasher, coooker, microwave), copper and brass piping and taps, aluminium furniture, lead flushing from roof and gutters, cutlery, metal ladders, metal wheel barrows, tin cans (including empty paint tins), metal fencing, boilers, hot water cylinders, radiators, hot water rails, tanks, and steel baths.
Light iron (technically referred to as ferrous) items attract the least value. Copper, brass and aluminium offer more.
How to find a scrap metal collector
You can Google scrap collector and see what turns up. This will take time but may result in you receiving payment for your metal. Or you can list your metal separately from your other waste on LoveJunk (and include the word 'Metal' in the title of your LoveJunk listing) to ensure that licensed scrap collectors on LoveJunk are alerted of your job. This is likely to result in an offer to collect your metal for £10 - which is the lowest collection cost possible on LoveJunk.
No Cash and Must be Licensed
To clamp down on illegal operators the law was changed a few years back, such that scrap metal collectors are no longer permitted to pay people cash. If any payment occurs from them to the person disposing of metal, the payment must be via bank transfer. So if a collector offers you cash for payment, it's illegal, and you should not do business with them. Equally, just like a general man & van waste collector, scrap metal collectors must have a waste carrier license issued by the Environment Agency. So always ask for their license number and check it on the EA site. Note, we of course check all collector's waste licensed on LoveJunk.
7) House Clearance or Office Clearance company
Similar to scrap metal collectors, house clearance and office clearance businesses focus primarily on the resale value of the items they clear - rather than making money for the collection and disposal service itself. As such, they are only really interested in jobs involving mostly stuff that can be resold, rather than rubbish. Equally, they don't really like single or just a few items - they like large multiple van load type jobs. Lastly, they almost always will want to come to the property to review all of the items to be cleared in order to assess how saleable they are and then give you a quote. This takes time which means is speed is of the essence, they're unlikely to be suitable.
Collection by a House clearance company
House clearance companies specialise in clearing homes after a bereavement or when a tenant leaves without paying the rent. Their quote for the job can be a cost or a payment - depending on the quality and number of reusable items in the house and how much other stuff there is present that needs to be removed but cannot be sold and will have to be disposed of for a cost. For more detail, please check out our house clearance guide
Collection by an Office clearance company
Similar to a house clearance company, an office clearance company is interested in clearing an office after a business goes bust or upgrades their office furniture. Our office clearance guide provides more detail including rates and how to go about finding and choosing a decent office clearance company.
8) Charity bulky item collection
Many charities offer a free or cheap bulky item collection service for unwanted furniture and large appliances. Just like house clearance companies they look for good quality items that can be sold or passed on to people in need. They do not want messy, dirty bulky waste (like DIY rubble etc). Nor do they want furniture and appliances that are broken or damaged beyond repair. Upholstered furniture MUST have a fire safety label on, otherwise they will not be able to remove it.
Here are some organisations that offer a collect from home donation service. Please bear in mind they are charities, rather than service businesses, so that means speed of response and process is likely to be a good deal slower than dealing with a private waste contractor.
Charities that collect and donate unwanted furniture etc
|British Red Cross||furniture|
|Cancer Research UK||arrange-a-collection|
|The Salvation Army||charity-shops|
It's important to note that many of these reuse charities are also registered as collectors on LoveJunk. So instead of ringing around to arrange a collection, you could just post a listing on LoveJunk and let the nearest available collector come to you.
9) Donate to individual
If you have something that can be reused (eg. sofa, chest of drawers, fridge), particularly if you are just replacing it with something newer and nicer, instead of paying a waste company or the council to remove it or giving it to a charity, you could try offering to donate it for free to other people.
The old way to do this was to tape a 'please take me' card to the item and place it outside your home on a sunny day. But these days a much more efficient method is to use an online platform. The most well known peer to peer donation platforms are Freecycle and Freegle. FaceBook Marketplace and Gumtree also have freebie sections. However, a much faster and easier route is to list it on LoveJunk and select the 'reusable' button (see below).
Selecting 'resuable' when you create your LoveJunk listing ensures that nearby reusers (we call them JunkLovers) get notified about your item. So, if they like it, they can offer to collect it for free. From your perspective, if you receive a JunkLover offer, the only cost to you will be a £10 matching fee paid to LoveJunk after the collection. Sure, it's £10 more than using Freecycle, but it's super fast and super easy. And best of all, you won't end up with an email inbox full of questions from random time wasters who are (still) searching for that perfect shade of sunburnt orange sofa that just isn't quite the same as yours!!
Prices: How much does bulky waste collection cost?
The cost of bulky waste collection depends on the method of collection, type and amount of waste, how much labour is involved in clearing it, and when you want it collecting. Here is a simple table summarising the main differences in cost between the most popular waste collection types, depending on whether junk is light and bulky, or messy and heavy.
Cost of Bulky Waste Collection Methods Table
|Collection type||Light/ Clean Junk Collection Price||Dirty / Heavy Waste Collection Price||Notes|
|council bulky||cheap||n/a||slow, no internal collection|
|man & van||cheap||medium||fast, collect from anywhere|
|skip hire||expensive||medium||may require permit, fixed size|
|hippo bag||expensive||expensive||may require permit, fixed size|
Check out our Rubbish Removal Prices Guide for lots of detail on this, including links to collection price guides for different types of waste. Also, if you scroll to the end of this post we've included a few priced examples of recent jobs undertaken by man & van collectors through the LoveJunk platform. To see thousands more, head to our gallery prices page, where you can filter by bulky waste type.
What is the cheapest way to get rid of bulky rubbish?
1) Get Paid - the cheapest way to get rid of bulky rubbish is to get paid by somebody to take it away. For example a scrap metal collector because it's metal or a house clearance company or individual because the item has intrinsic value. For example, a perfectly nice sofa or working domestic apppliance that can be used by someone else. Or even a damaged or broken item which, if repaired or restored, would be worth a meaningful amount. For example, an antique piece of furniture.
2) Collection for Free - the second cheapest way to get rid of bulky waste is to have it taken away for free. This is actually almost identical the first exactlyu teh same is cost of bulky waste collection depends on the method of collection, type and amount of waste, how much labour is involved in clearing it, and when you want it collecting. Here is a simple table summarising the main differences in cost between the most popular waste collection types, depending on whether junk is light and bulky, or messy and heavy.
3) Take it to the Tip yourself - the third cheapest way to dispose of bulky waste is to take it to your local civic amenity site or HWRC. These are typically completely free to use, but you will normally require proof of residence
4) Council Collection - the fourth cheapest way to get rid of bulky waste is to use your council bulky item collection service.
4) Use LoveJunk - joint fourth cheapest because often the council bulky waste removal service will be more expensive (or, in the case of DIY and builder waste or commercial rubbish, not available) is to use LoveJunk to find your cheapest available collector.
Collection Guides of Specific types of Bulky Waste and Junk
Below are some detailed guides for how to get rid of specific type of waste. For a detailed look at bulky waste collections in London, please see our complete guide.
|Furniture||Furniture Removal Guide|
|Sofa||Sofa Disposal Guide|
|Fridge||Fridge Disposal Guide|
|Mattress||Mattress Disposal Guide|
|Carpet||Carpet Disposal Guide|
|Cardboard||Cardboard Removal Guide|
|DIY waste||DIY Waste Disposal|
|Wheelie bin||Wheelie Bin|
|Piano||Piano Disposal & Removal|
|Office furniture||Office Clearance|
|Garden||Garden Waste Collection|
|Kitchen Installation waste||Kitchen Installation Removal|
|Hazardous waste||Hazardous Waste Removal|
Other options for bulky waste Disposal
The other options to consider if you have bulky waste to dispose but don't want to organise someone to collect it are 1) Driving it (or carrying it) to your local tip 2) Burning it 3) Asking your tradesperson to take it away 4) Asking a neighbour if you can share their skip
a) Drive to the Tip / Civic Amenity / HWRC / Dump
Household waste recycling centres (HWRC), civic amenity sites or rubbish tips are available to every resident to dispose of stuff you can't fit into your bin. If you have the means of transport and time to load up your car, taking your bulky item to the tip is a good option because it's free (or at least very cheap, as some councils do charge residents to dispose of certain types of rubbish). Also, HRWCs accept more types of waste than the council bulky waste collection service does. It's important to remember that each HWRC has a list of waste that they accept and prohibit. You can find these lists on their websites.
Can you dispose of a sofa at the tip?
We've included the question of "Can you dump your sofa at the tip?" because so many people don't seem to know. The answer of course is YES!! Council tips or HWRCs will take any bulky household item, including things like mattresses, sofa beds, chest of drawers, fridges and old carpet.
However, a more relevant question is probably "Can I fit my sofa on the roof of my car or do I need to hire a van to carry it?". If you do need to hire a van, then it's probably a lot cheaper getting the council to collect the item from your home or using LoveJunk to find a collector or reuser.
Below is a map of all the tips in London. For further information here is a summary of all London rubbish tips including opening times, prohibited waste, vehicle restrictions and opening hours.
b) Burn bulky waste
A bonfire in your yard or garden, although entirely legal, should really only ever be used for dry garden waste like leaves and wood. Burning stuff like cardboard, packaging and treated wood (this means any wood that has been painted or stained etc) - although it burns well! - is a definite environmental no-no because of the emissions and toxic fumes that burning it creates. Bear in mind also that there are laws against the nuisance caused by smoke from bonfires.
c) Ask your tradesperson to take the rubbish
If your bulky waste is as a result of work carried out by a tradesperson or handyman, then it's certainly worth asking them if they can take the waste with them when they go. Obviously if this part of the service wasn't included in the original quote then you should expect them to charge extra for it. Bear in mind too that a tradesperson requires a waste carrier license to remove your waste.
d) Share a skip with your neighbour
Do you have a neighbout that's having builder work being done and has a skip outside their home? If so, rather than trying to sneak it into the skip after dark (only kidding!), why not ask them if you can use it for your bulky waste too and offer to contribute to cost? There is a good chance their waste disposal costs were a fixed oart of the original builder quote, so you extra bit of rubbish could be added for free.
What are the most environmentally ways to dispose of bulky waste?
- Reuse - getting your junk reused is by far and away the best solution. Which means donating to charity or an individual is always first choice environmentally. Within reuse though bear in mind that nearest is best. So, if the person collecting the item lives nearby that means less carbon footprint involved in the transport
- Recycle - second best is recycling. Recycling of your waste is MUCH more likely to happen if you separate highly recyclable items from others and dispose of them separately. Hence metal for the metal specialists. But equally, if you have lots of garden waste, then don't mix it up with more general builder waste or domestic refuse bags, because that contaminates the load and makes it much harder for the collector to dispose of it as one material type. They will want to do this btw, because single material types (like cardboard, green waste or bricks) are cheaper to dispose of at the disposal facilities.
- Zero landfill disposal facility - if the waste is mixed and cannot be reused, then it will be taken by the waste collector to a licensed commercial disposal facility. These facilities receive the waste, sort it and then send some of it to be recycled, some to be burned at a waste to energy plant, and some to go to a landfill site. A zero landfill disposal facility is one that sends no waste to landfill. In other words it is either recycled or goes to waste to energy. When you use LoveJunk, the landfill diversion of the facility used by your collector is shown in your disposal documentation. Around 40% of all sites used on the platform are currenly zero landfill.
Thanks for reading, and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about anything in this article - [email protected]