Kitchen installation waste disposal guide
A guide for fitters, installers, builders and tradespeople on how to dispose of rubbish created from a kitchen or bathroom installation, covering ways to save money and basic checks to carry out to ensure your waste is being disposed of responsibly:
- What waste needs to be cleared?
- How much waste is there?
- Disposal options
- How to keep the price down
Just so we’re all clear about what we’re talking about, here are the 5 main categories of waste that can arise from an installation:
- Packaging waste – the material that is used to contain and protect the new units for purposes of delivery. In other words, cardboard boxes, plastic polystyrene & bubble wrap
- Offcuts from the new kitchen or bathroom - wood, sawdust, MDF, tiles and tubes. In other words, the ends of wood, tiles & plastic that aren't used
- Small Hazardous items - empty tubes, pots and cans of adhesive & silicone used in the construction and assembly
- Old kitchen/ bathroom - units or carcasses, bath, wall tiles, floor tiles, laminate flooring, sink, shower tray, taps, sink, toilet, and appliances (so-called WEEE which stands for waste electrical and electronic equipment) like an integrated fridge, cooker, dishwasher or extractor hood
- Waste from associated works carried out at the same time as the installation - rubble/ wall, flooring, windows & window frames.
- Reusable packaging items that should not be disposed of – items like the so-called ‘pizza boxes’ used to protect marble tops are designed to be used again and again, and so although they arise on jobs, wherever possible should be set aside to be returned to the manufacturer
The amount of waste from an installation will vary depending on the size of kitchen/bathroom being replaced and also whether the job is dry fit only (ie. no need to remove the existing kitchen/bathroom) or involves additional works.
As a rough guide a regular installation which involves removal of the old kitchen/bathroom at the same time as the waste from the dry fit (but excluding waste from any additional building works, like a new floor or kitchen extension), on average creates the following amount of waste:
- Kitchen - 600kg and 7 cubic yards
- Bathroom - 450kg and 4 cubic yards
Unless you are working for a large retail chain that includes waste removal as part of their overall installation package given to the end customer, as an installer you essentially have 3 options when it comes to disposing of the waste:
- remove the waste with your own vehicle;
- pay a waste contractor to take it away
- leave it with your customer to sort out themselves
Looking at each in turn…
REMOVE WASTE YOURSELF
If you have an appropriate vehicle (and are able to keep the rubbish away from your tools and equipment) and are insured and licensed to move waste, then loading the rubbish on to your own vehicle and taking it away yourself is a very convenient option. It gives you complete flexibility, so you don’t have to worry about getting it all stacked and ready for a third party waste contractor to pick up.
Cost depends on a few factors. If you take it straight to a tip, then you need to bear in mind in the cost of your own time (which may be nothing if it’s the end of the day and you on your way home – but could represent much more if it is time in which you could be undertaking more installation work, for which you are paid ie. opportunity cost) and also the cost of disposal.
Disposal cost will either be immediate if you take it straight to the tip (in which case, the cost is whatever you get charged by the tip – remembering that some tips charge minimum amounts regardless of weight – so if you only have a small amount of waste, paying a 1 tonne minimum rate may not be a great idea) or subsequent, if you take the waste back to a skip at your own premises.
‘Bulking’ your waste like this in a skip back at your base is a popular choice for many tradespeople and builders. If you have space, it makes sense to have at least a couple of skips to split the material into more recyclable (and therefore cheaper) waste streams – like wood, cardboard, metal, inert and one for everything else.
However, in practice, unless you have a lot of spare time (or access to free labour) and space, this approach can be a bit of a false economy. In other words, you spend so much time and effort saving money, you miss out on getting on with your real day job -namely installing kitchens and bathrooms!
Also, beware of the regulatory constraints that exist when it comes to bringing waste back to your premises. There is a difference between handballing waste directly from your vehicle and placing it directly into either a wood skip or a skip for mixed general waste, and unloading all the waste on to the ground and breaking things down and sorting and segregating into different waste streams. The latter is an unlicensed waste transfer station. Highly illegal, definitely in breach of your planning consents, and certainly not covered by insurance in the event of a H&S accident or fire. Oh, and on the subject of fires – although it is perfectly legal for a householder to burn pretty much whatever he or she likes in their garden provided it doesn’t cause a public nuisance, businesses do not share that same freedom. In other words, burning packaging and wood waste from your installation business is NOT allowed. And, regardless of the legality point, burning treated wood and packing is properly bad for the environment – so please don’t do it!
USE A WASTE CONTRACTOR
The waste industry is there for a reason. While it may seem cheap and efficient to remove the waste yourself, sometimes it pays to use a professional. Assuming you use a good one, you should end up with an easy, compliant and relatively low cost solution – leaving you more time to get on with growing your business or finishing of the work at hand – and keeping your vehicle nice and clean inside.
There are 3 ways you can have your waste removed – 1) skip 2) skip bag 3) man & van. Which one you choose will depend on a host of reasons. The table below sets out some of the most obvious:
Removal options provided by Waste contractors for Installation Waste
Man & van
|Good for lots of messy, dirty waste like rubble, tiles||Good for mainly messy, dirty waste like tiles||Can take any, but messy requires rubble bags|
|6, 8 and 12 cu yards are most common. 4 yard rarely available||Most common are 1, 1.5 and 4.5 yards||Typical van size 12 or 14 yards. Charge less if less|
|Fixed container||Fixed (albeit floppy!) container||No containment. Protect grass using tarp or rubble bags|
|Cheapest if lost of heavy waste. Unless permit required||Most expensive per cubic yard||Cheapest unless lots of heavy waste|
|Rarely same day. Can be delated by need for skip permit||Rarely same day. Can be delated by need for skip permit||Normally fastest response|
|Not provided. Pay extra||Not provided. Pay extra||Labour included|
|Need space on site to place the skip||Needs to be placed||Waste can be picked up from anywhere|
|Length of project
|Good for v long projects for neatness /H&S containment||Good for longer projects for neatness||Better for shorter term projects or frequent collections|
Source: Lovejunk Limited June 2020
LEAVE IT TO YOUR CUSTOMER
From a customer service perspective, leaving the problem to your customer isn’t an ideal choice. From their perspective, they’ve paid thousands of pounds for their new bathroom or kitchen and then thousands more to have it installed. The least they can expect is that the people involved in charging them all this money, is to take away the rubbish that comes from it. That said, assuming you’re not fitting on behalf of a retailer that provides the waste removal anyway, it still may make sense for the customer to get rid of the junk rather than you in order to save money.
For example, if your customer is having other works undertaken at the property around the same time as their bathroom, then getting a waste contractor to remove all of the waste combined in one go (or in one large skip) is likely to be cheaper in total than having two separate collections. And it may not just be other works. Your customer might just take the opportunity to have a big clear out.
Some customers just like being in control and doing their own research to make sure they aren’t overpaying. And those sorts of customers should clearly be encouraged to look after the waste disposal, because whatever you do – they’re almost bound to question whether it was the cheapest or greenest option.
Finally, if the customer engages the contractor directly, that will avoid the need for you to add an admin charge for putting it through your business
Ps. Just as an aside, if you ever have a customer that talks about taking all the waste down to the tip himself and dumping it for free, it’s probably worth pointing out to them that for the vast majority of council tips, home improvement waste is not accepted. More details here
If you decide to use a man & van waste contractor, rather than remove it yourself – then other than shopping around to make sure you’re not overpaying (and obviously LoveJunk does this all for you), the best ways you can keep the cost down are
- Break the waste down to minimise how much space it takes up – even though the weight will be the same, waste contractors also only have a finite amount of space in their vehicle. So if your waste takes up less space, that leaves them with more space to pick up other people’s junk before going to the tip
- Bag all loose waste – putting messy, loose waste like tiles, sawdust and rubble into rubble bags or bulk bags to stop it flying around, males it easier for contractors to clear and load it onto their vehicle. Less time on site means more time to do other jobs
- Place it close to the road – also helps reduce the loading time required which should reduce the charge
- Is there anything the customer will take in their own bin? – you need to be sensitive with how you do this, but particularly with small jobs, many customers are normally completely fine with you leaving waste nicely bagged in or beside their wheelie bin for collection by the council
- Leave appliances for the council or the scrap man – councils will remove any household bulky appliance as part of their household bulky item collection service, and that service is often very cheap and sometimes even free. Equally, items like dishwasher and cooker have a scrap metal value. This means that licensed scrap metal merchants will often be prepared to remove them for free.
Documentary record of the Waste Transfer
There is a legal requirement to record in writing when waste is transferred from one trade party to another and to keep that record for 2 years. This document is called a waste transfer note. These days no particular document type is required. An invoice or works order is fine, provided it contains the following key info:
- Date, time and address of transfer
- Names, addresses and signatures of the parties and their roles (e.g. waste carrier vs waste producer)
- The SIC code of the person getting rid of the waste – n/a if it’s a householder
- Waste description - including the relevant European Waste Catalogue codes, the amount of the waste (kg or vol), manner of containment, and confirmation the person disposing of the waste has complied with their duty to apply the waste hierarchy (ie. basically considered and tried to reuse or recycle materials before disposing of)
However, this requirement for a waste transfer note does not apply when moving household waste from a domestic property. So, if you fit a kitchen in someone’s home and then take the waste from that work away, you do not strictly speaking need to document it with a waste transfer note. That said, increasingly householders are concerned about where the waste is going and the disposal being properly documented, so it’s a good idea to provide one anyway as reassurance of your professionalism.
Fridges have special rules because they contain hazardous gases. Firstly, they can only be taken to disposal sites that are properly are licensed to handle hazardous WEEE. Secondly, if you remove it from a commercial premise (eg. office kitchen area), the transfer has to be recorded using a Hazardous Waste Consignment Note. More information here
Waste carrier license
If you take waste away from a customer site (irrespective of whether you created it), you will need a waste carrier license from the Environment Agency (or SEPA if in Scotland). Rubbish removal without a license is illegal, with fines of up to £5,000.
There are 2 categories of waste carrier license – Lower Tier and Upper Tier. Upper tier is the most common and the one most installers/ fitters / builders require. It covers anyone removing other people’s waste and/or construction and demolition waste. C&D waste is defined as “typically including soil, concrete, bricks, glass, wood, plasterboard, asbestos, metal and plastic and …produced as part of a large construction project or a smaller business activity, like a general builder replacing a bathroom, or a gardener replacing fence panels and paving slabs”. So, a kitchen fitter taking away the old kitchen requires the Upper tier license. FYI, Lower Tier is if you only move your own waste and that waste does not include any construction or demolition waste.
As well as a waste carrier license, you will need van insurance that covers you for moving waste in your vehicle. Adding waste removal as a permitted activity will increase your premium, but not having it may be more costly in long run. Standard commercial vehicle insurance does not cover waste removal, so any accident when carrying waste in that vehicle, may well invalidate your insurance protection. Plus you could also be in breach of obligations owed to your larger commercial clients whose contractual terms require you to have valid insurance for what you do.
Temporary Storage – bringing waste back to your depot
If you take waste back to your own premises to be stored temporarily, so it can be collected later by a waste contractor or taken on for disposal elsewhere, this is covered by the Environment Agency temporary storage of waste exemption Non-Waste Framework Directive 3. To qualify the waste must
- be from work you carried out at a customer’s site (rather than their general waste)
- be stored securely
- not be particularly flammable and combustible
- not be unbonded asbestos,
- must be less than 50 cubic metres in volume.