bulky waste definition

Bulky waste definition

31 August 2021

What is bulky waste? An detailed review of large rubbish and junk that is too big for the bin


This article covers everything you need to know about Bulky Waste.


1. What is Bulky Waste?

Bulky Waste is defined 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. What is a Bulky Waste item?

A Bulky Waste Item can be defined as any item you wish to dispose of that you cannot fit in your regular bin. Popular household bulky waste items are sofa, mattress, and fridge.


3. Clean bulky waste items compared to Dirty bulky waste

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

  • Clean Waste (often referred to as Junk) - these are bulky waste items from the home or office like unwanted furniture (eg. sofa, chair, wardrobe, table, desk, filing cabinet, mattress, garden bench), bulky domestic 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'.


4. How do councils define Bulky Waste?

Councils typically exclude Dirty Waste 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 that duty does not extend to commercial waste or waste from home improvement, construction or demolition work.


5. Household bulky waste compared to commercial bulky waste

Whether bulky waste is household or commercial is relevant because it affects which rubbish clearance  and bulky waste collection 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 Bulky Waste Collection Guide and Guide to Rubbish Clearance


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