bulky waste definition

Bulky waste definition

31 August 2021

What is bulky waste? Understanding the rubbish and junk that's too big for the bin

1. Definition 


Bulky Waste is as any waste material or item you wish to dispose of that does not fit in your regular bin.  It can be categorised by how messy it is (Clean vs Dirty) and also who created it (Household vs Commercial). 


2. Clean vs Dirty


Looking at the distinction between clean and dirty types of bulky waste: 

  • Clean Waste (often referred to as Junk) - bulky items from the home or office like unwanted furniture (eg. sofa, chair, wardrobe, table, desk, filing cabinet, mattress, garden bench), bulky appliances (e.g. fridge, dishwashers, washing machine, microwave, cooker, dryer, mower), soft furnishings (eg. duvet, curtains) and general bric-a-brac (eg. broken toys, old videos, magazines, exercise equipment). Packaging material (eg. large cardboard boxes, polystyrene) is often also included in this category because they don't leave dust and mess if you move them around;


  • Dirty Waste (often referred to as Rubbish) – messy, loose waste material and rubbish from home improvement, contruction, demolition and builder type work, or bulky garden refuse. Examples include broken tiles, soil, bricks, rubble, pipes, doors, windows & window frames, plasterboard and drywall, MDF, kitchen and bathroom units, sheds, fence panels, carpet, flooring & underlay. It’s the sort of rubbish you’d generally rather not put in your car without first putting down some decent covers and your natural inclination would be 'this probably needs a skip'.


Note: Councils typically exclude Dirty Rubbish from their bulky waste collection service for householders. Limiting their definition to “items you take with you when you move house”.  This is because councils have a statutory obligation to receive Clean Junk from householders at their civic amenity sites free of charge, but not to accept trade waste or waste from home improvement, construction or demolition work.


3. Household vs. commercial


Whether bulky waste is household or commercial is relevant because it affects which rubbish clearance options are available and also how much they will cost.

  • Commercial - waste can classified as commercial because of its location or who created it. If it is located at a non-domestic premises (eg. office, factory, church, hotel, hostel, commercial yard) it will be commercial.  Equally, if the person who created it was working for a business or as tradesperson (eg. builder, kitchen fitter, handyman, office employee) it will be considered commercial waste regardless of where the activity was performed.


  • Household - any waste created by a householder at their home is household waste.  This includes someone living in serviced apartments or even a hotel, provided it is they who created the waste and they live at the premises. However, bear in mind that most councils exclude home improvement waste from their council bulky waste collection service.



bulky waste collection example - old sofa

'Clean domestic' Junk from LoveJunk marketplace collected for £45


More info

Looking for more info on bulky waste disposal?  Read our ultimate Guide to Rubbish Clearance


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