how to dispose of rubbish hero

How To Dispose of Rubbish

9 February 2024

Guide for householders on disposal of rubbish that is too big for your bin

Looking to get rid of some bulky waste like an old sofa, furniture, mattress, builders' rubbish, broken appliance or garden rubbish? You’re in the right place! This is the ultimate guide for householders on how to dispose of rubbish and junk that’s too big for your bin. 

We review each rubbish disposal option available, including how they work, their cost, and what types of junk they can be used for.  We also provide guidance on how to dispose of very specific types of rubbish (eg. asbestos, piano), how disposal options vary by region, and answer the most popular questions people

Below is an overview of the sections covered: 

  1. Donate or give away for free
  2. Recycling Centre
  3. Council bulky waste collection service
  4. Man & van waste collector
  5. Skip hire
  6. Hippo bags and skip bags
  7. Other disposal methods
    1. Retailer take-back
    2. House clearance
    3. Scrap metal collectors


1. Donate items for reuse

The cheapest and greenest option for getting rid of unwanted stuff is to give it to a charity or individual for free. Obviously in order to do that, the item should be in genuinely good working condition or with minimal wear and tear. The sorts of items that can be donated include:

  • Furniture (sofas, armchairs, table & chairs, drawers, wardrobes etc). No rips, tears or stains to cushions or fabric. No wobbles or loose joinery. 
  • Appliances (washing machines, tumble dryers, microwaves etc). Still in good working order with all necessary cables/ attachments included.
  • Mattresses should have no stains or rips. 
  • Large electricals (floor lamps, TVs, heaters, dehumidifiers etc.). As with appliances - in working order with all attachments.



Donate to a charity - how does it work?

Certain national charities in England collect your furniture for free. Usually, you fill out a contact form or give them a call and arrange collection.

There may be smaller, independent or regional charities near you who also want furniture or appliance donations. Try your local council's bulky waste pages to find suggestions.

Note: if you want to donate any sort of upholstered item to a charity (sofa or armchair), it needs to have fire labels still attached. Charities can't legally accept items without. They look something like this:

mattress fire label

If your item doesn't have one of these, you can still see if an individual wants it!

Give away to an individual - how does it work?

Assuming nobody in your family & friends network wants your item, try posting in online reuse forums and sites to individuals looking for second hand items. Normally, if somebody wants your item, they'll offer to come and collect it for free. 

Reuse Pros & Cons

All going well, reuse is a fantastic option both for your pocket and the planet. It is the cheapest and greenest means of how to dispose of rubbish.  It keeps your item from being destroyed. However, there is always the chance that either the charity or individual reuser turns your item down upon collection and you have to start again or consider other options, which can be very frustrating!

Our article about how to Donate Furniture has lots of tips for getting an item successfully reused and includes a list of charities, reuse sites and how to stay safe throughout the process.


2. Council Recycling Centre

Every council area has at least one Household Waste Recycling Centre (otherwise known as HWRC or tip). The HWRC is a place you can take rubbish in your own car to dispose of in designated areas. It's worth checking the rules for your nearest site, as you'll need to know a few things:

  • Do you need to book? Since the pandemic, many sites implemented a booking system where you have a designated time slot. 
  • What type of vehicle do you have? Most recycling centres only allow regular cars on-site for free, and anything else (e.g. pick-up trucks, vans, trailers) you'll need a permit for.

This info is all available on council websites.  

What kind of waste can you take to a recycling centre?

You can take almost any kind of household waste to a recycling centre. However, it's better to think of what you can fit into your car and lift between yourself and a helper! Each region's recycling centres can have their lists of unacceptable items, so do check before going. As a baseline, you can take:

  • Household waste (ie. black bag waste you normally put in your wheelie bin)
  • Mattresses
  • Furniture
  • Electrical apppliances
  • Garden waste
  • Oil and paint
  • Scrap metal
  • DIY waste (up to a certain weight is free)



How much does it cost?

Disposing of household waste at recycling centres is free, with the exception of lots of DIY rubble. You may need to pay extra if you need vehicle permits.

Pros & cons of recycling centres

The major benefit of recycling centres is that disposal is free. Plus, as long as you can get there on the day (or you can book a slot quick enough) you can do same-day disposal. Unfortunately, convenient and free disposal depends entirely on whether you have a car to transport it in, and also whether your waste fits into your car. If you need to hire something bigger, you will most likely have to pay extra. You must also do all the loading and unloading yourself.

Find your closest site with our Recycling Centre Map.


3. Council Bulky Waste Collection Service

Almost every council offers householders a bulky item collection service. You book a collection slot and a council van comes to pick up your items. Councils aren't insured to remove items from inside properties, so you need to leave stuff just outside your front door or at your property boundary. 

Generally, councils will collect:

  • Bulky furniture: sofas, armchairs, desks, cabinets etc.
  • Appliances: fridges, dishwashers, washing machines, tumble dryers etc
  • Carpets and cardboard
  • Mattresses

Only 5% of councils will collect DIY waste and only 11% will collect pianos. Check on your local council's website for confirmation.

How much does the council service cost?

Prices vary by council. The average charge to pick up 1 item is £33, although it ranges from free to £75. 28% of councils offer some form of concession. This is a discount if you receive income support, are elderly or disabled for example. 

Read more about Council Large Item Prices and how much your local authority charges.

council bulky waste team loading junk

Pros & cons

Councils on average are cheaper than private waste collectors but the sacrifice is convenience. Normally, you must wait 1-2 weeks for your collection which is not ideal if you need something gone urgently or within a small window. Plus, it's a problem if you have any mobility issues and can't get your bulky waste outside your door. 

Read more about Council Bulky Waste Collection here.



4. Man & van waste collector

Man and van waste collector is probably the most popular response to 'How to dispose of rubbish'. A man & van waste removal business will collect waste from anywhere on your property and take it away for disposal.  You pay them according to how much waste they take and how long it takes to load it. Unlike the council collection service, man & van collectors can take pretty much every type of waste and any size of load, big or small. So they cover all of the following:

  • Household - furniture, bulky appliances, junk, general rubbish
  • Garden - branches, leaves, sheds, fence panels
  • DIY/ renovation - rubble, kitchen or bathroom ripouts, bricks, plasterboard

Waste collectors must be licensed with the Environment Agency (or SEPA in Scotland) to carry waste (and have an extra license to take hazardous waste like paint or asbestos).  Always ask the collector for their license number before using them and double check it at the Environment Agency to ensure its valid.

How much does a private waste collector cost?

Prices vary from £20 - £400.  The exact price depends on several factors:

  • Size of load - big loads cost more
  • Weight - heavy loads cost more
  • Fridge or mattress - more expensive
  • Sofa & upholstered items - POPs items more expensive
  • Reuse, resale and valuable junk - cheaper (but only if genuinely reusable!)
  • Time slots/ pickup day - narrow, out of hours and urgent time slots are more expensive
  • Access and loading time - awkward access and longer loading more expensive

Read more about each factor in Rubbish Removal Price Guidance.

Examples of man & van rubbish removal charges

See below some examples of how much waste carriers charge. To browse recent jobs on the LoveJunk Marketplace and filter for different waste types, go to Rubbish Removal Prices.


Fridge freezer, £50

Old washing machine, £30

Two-seater sofa, £60

Double mattress, £50

Packing boxes disposal, £20

Sofabed, £80

Bath, £30

Cardboard, £30

Sofa, £50

Cupboard, £35

Wall unit, £65

Wooden pallets, £35


Man & Van: Pros & Cons

Although this is a more expensive option than tips or council collection, private waste collectors can:

  • Remove waste from inside your house so you don't have to do any lifting at all
  • Come on a same-day basis if you need stuff gone urgently (and generally much faster responses or on your chosen day) though be prepared to pay a little more
  • Collect most types of waste and lots of items at once

Unfortunately, there are a lot of cowboy operators around who charge well below standard, fly tip your waste and then pocket the profit. The LoveJunk Marketplace exists to connect householders to fully licensed local waste removal businesses and find the cheapest solution. No fly tipping guaranteed!



5. Skip Hire

Skips are really useful for messy waste that comes from renovation projects, for example, and you need somewhere to contain it all. 

There are a couple of ways that skip hire can work. First, regular skip hire is when you rent a skip for up to a certain number of days. You load the skip yourself and then the skip company comes to collect it. It's possible to extend the number of days you hire for, as well as get it emptied and brought back (of course at extra cost). 

Wait and load skip hire is when a lorry comes with a skip, you load while it waits and the waste is taken away immediately. Like regular skip hire, you have to do all the loading and labour yourself here too.

skip with rubbish in it

How much does skip hire cost?

Costs vary depending on skip size, geography and any extra permits necessary. Naturally, larger skips cost more than smaller ones. The South is on average more expensive than the North (higher costs of disposal and operation). You need a skip permit if you plan to place it on a public road. 

All of that said, the UK average price for a 6-yard skip is roughly £250. You pay a flat fee for a certain number of days.

Skip hire pros & cons

The main advantage of skips is that they contain all your rubble and messy waste. They also come in various sizes suitable for different projects or needs. The disadvantages are the space they take up, lack of flexibility with price and all the extra costs surrounding permits. 

Our Skip Hire Guide answers all questions and full info about permits, what you can put in a skip and which size you need. Or, jump straight to popular articles 6 Yard Skip Guide and 8 Yard Skip Guide.


6. Hippo Bags and Skip Bags

Skip bags (often called Hippo bags, a popular brand of skip bag) are essentially the canvas version of a small skip. They are for 'messy' waste put into skips from garden, builders or DIY projects for example. Like skips, they come in different sizes but don't take up nearly as much room. 

It works by filling them up and then paying the retailer OR a man & van to empty it. The retailer takes the bag away with collection, whereas a man & van can leave you with the bag to use again. 

hippo waste skip bag ready for collection and removal full lovejunk london disposal

How much do skip bags cost?

Skip bag prices for JUST the bag are fixed. You can purchase one directly from any major retailer (e.g. Hippowaste, B&Q, Wickes, Travis Perkins) or Amazon. Here are the current prices from major suppliers:

Midibag Megabag Hipposkip
Hippowaste £14.99 £18.99 £38.99
B&Q £12 £17 £35
Wickes £11 £16 £34
Travis Perkins £16.55 £21.82 £44.87
Amazon £14.99 £18.99 £38.99


You can also purchase a bag + collection. Hippowaste, for example, charges the following:

Midibag Megabag Hipposkip
Hippowaste (bag & collection) £199.99 £229.99 £314.99


Take a look at our Hippo Bag Collection Cost Guide for advice and how to save money. However, you can also pay a man & van waste collector to empty the bag. This usually works out cheaper too!

Hippo Bags Pros & Cons

Avantages of using a Hippo bag include:

  • Smaller, lightweight way to contain messy waste usually put in a skip
  • Choices of size
  • You can keep the bags for as long as you need (as opposed to skips which have short fixed rental windows) or even forever if you keep reusing it


  • Collection by retailers must meet lots of requirements (can't be overfilled, for example) - unless you use a man & van in which case they don't apply

For more info explaining how to dispose of bulky rubbish with skip bags (including buying, filling them up and collection), see our Hippo Bag Guide



7. Other types of rubbish disposal

In specific circumstances, here are three more ways to get rid of your junk:

a) Retailer take-back service

This is a disposal option offered by the retailer selling you a new item. For example a sofa or new piece of furniture, an appliance or a mattress. Usually, the retailer offers this to you at checkout as an extra (usually chargeable) service on top of delivery. 

Check with your retailer whether this is an option and how much it costs. 


b) House clearance companies

When you have an entire house worth of stuff to get rid of, you can hire a professional house clearance company. They usually need to come and inspect the items before they can give you a quote. The price for a house clearance depends on

  • Any valuable items that they can sell on
  • Items that they can donate for free
  • Number of rooms to be cleared
  • Any hazardous waste

That being said, the price for a standard 2-bed house clearance is between £250-£350. To save money, you could also do parts of this yourself. For example, sell or donate any valuable items and then hire a waste carrier to clear the rest.

Read more in-depth in our House Clearance article where we break down the whole process.


c) Scrap metal collectors

If you have a lot of metal in your waste, a scrap metal company often takes it away for free. Scrap companies specialise in metal waste and make their money by selling the recovered metal. Like regular waste carriers, scrap metal collectors must have a license from the Environment Agency to take your waste.

Examples of items that usually have scrap metal value:

  • Washing machines
  • Dishwasters
  • Cookers
  • Microwaves
  • Copper/ brass piping and taps
  • Aluminium furniture
  • Lead flushing
  • Cutlery
  • Metal ladders or wheelbarrows
  • Tin cans

To read more about scrap metal collectors, read our Free Bulky Waste Collection article.




How to dispose of specific types of waste?


Builder rubbish & DIY waste

Builder's or DIY waste generally includes rubble and bricks, offcuts, packaging waste, small hazardous items and sometimes entire kitchen or bathroom fittings. Typically, this kind of waste is very messy so you could consider a skip, a Hippo bag or a waste collector depending on your preference and budget. If you have the transport, you also have the option to take it to your local recycling centre, but many charge for over a certain weight. 

Read our articles How to dispose of rubble and How to dispose of DIY waste here.


Cardboard & packaging waste

Too much cardboard for your recycling bin? If you can't reuse any of it yourself and nobody in your network needs any cardboard boxes, you can take them to your local recycling centre or hire a man & van waste collector. Luckily, disposing of cardboard and cardboard boxes is usually quite cheap since it's very lightweight. 

Read How to dispose of cardboard waste and How to dispose of cardboard boxes.

how to dispose of cardboard waste example


Carpet and flooring 

When you have a new carpet fitted, you're usually left with the old carpet, offcut underlay, gripper rods and packaging to dispose of.  The following are the main disposal solutions to consider:

  • Pay your carpet fitter to take the carpet away
  • Use a carpet retailer take-back service
  • Take the carpet to your local tip
  • Pay for a man & van to remove the waste

Our article How to dispose of your old carpet has all the details.



Are you replacing your dishwasher? See if the retailer does a take-back service. If not but you have a car, you could take it to your nearest recycling centre. Otherwise, try a scrap metal collector or a regular man & van waste carrier. 

All the details in our article How to dispose of your old dishwasher.


Fridge recycling

Assuming your fridge is beyond reuse or resale, you can get rid of it by taking it to the tip, getting the council to collect or hiring a waste removal company. Btw - you can't put fridges in skips because some components are considered hazardous waste! Everything explained in our How to dispose of your old fridge article.


Garden waste disposal

For garden waste, most councils have a 'green waste' collection service that is either free or has a small subscription fee. For one off disposals, you could also use a skip, skip bag, or waste collector.

Check out How to dispose of garden waste for all the options broken down.

bag of garden waste


House clearance

Getting rid of a whole house worth of stuff and/ or rubbish is a huge undertaking but don't worry! There are specialist house clearance companies that can help with the process. You could also try to sell or donate anything of value or in good condition yourself, then hire a waste collector to clear the rest. Be prepared to pay more for more waste, especially if you need the waste gone urgently. 

For all questions answered, top tips and more, read our Guide to House Clearance.


Mattress disposal

When it's time to upgrade your mattress, you can see if the retailer selling the new one offers a take-back service. Other cheap options include donation/ reuse or taking it to the tip (as long as you can fit it in your car!). Council collect mattresses as part of their bulky waste services, or if you want something quicker then you can pay a man & van company. 

Read more in our article How to dispose of your old mattress.


Office clearance

Not technically household waste but useful to know! Office clearance waste could include desks, chairs, filing cabinets, paper and cardboard and maybe some electrical junk. It's very likely that lots of the furniture items are reusable, so try posting them online to either sell or give them away. However, if you need things cleared in a hurry, your best bet is a waste removal company. 

Advice and tips about Office Clearance found here.



Pianos are notoriously tricky to get rid of because of their size and weight. There are companies that specialise in piano removals or you could pay a local waste team to collect and dispose of the piano for you.  However, it's always worth seeing if anyone is interested in taking your piano off of your hands for free.

For more detail and advice check out our Piano disposal guide.

piano disposal



Good news - furniture is one of the most easily reusable types of junk! With the rise in popularity of upcycling and reselling, people will take even a well-used piece of furniture as long as the foundations are still sound. If you have the time and inclination, try posting your old furniture online to see if anybody wants it. Or offer to a charity (as long as fire labels are intact for any upholstered items).

Otherwise, you can take any smaller pieces in your car to the tip. Anything bigger the council will probably pick up. For faster and more convenient disposal, hire a waste removal company.

All options broken down plus top tips in How to dispose of your old furniture.

furniture reuse items


Sofa disposal

The most eco-friendly solution to try with your old sofa is donation or online reuse (also the cheapest!). If you offer to a charity, they can't accept unless there are fire labels still attached. No fire labels? Post online to reuse communities who are looking for second hand sofas! 

If your sofa is beyond reuse, your options include:

  • Recycling centre (if you can get it in your car)
  • Council collection
  • Collection by sofa retailer
  • Man & van waste removal company

Find reuse advice (including charities who collect and reuse sites to try) plus all disposal option details in How to dispose of your old sofa.


Garden Shed

Sheds are often classed as DIY waste by councils. This means they will not be collected as part of the council's bulky waste collection service.  So, you will either have to take the dismantled shed to your local tip or pay a man and van waste company to remove it. For full detail, read our garden shed disposal guide.


Hazardous waste

See a full list of Hazardous Bulky Waste items. We recommend leaving hazardous waste to the professionals. We have full guides on Asbestos Disposal as well as Paint Disposal.

hazardous waste paint cans as example of how to dispose of bulky rubbish


Wheelie bin waste

Whatever the reason, sometimes we just have too much rubbish for our wheelie bins. To avoid unwanted pests and smells, find a rubbish removal company to come and clear it for you. To help avoid these situations plus see example prices, read our in depth article What to do with too much rubbish for your wheelie bin.

too much waste for wheelie bins


Christmas tree

Come January, lots of us need to get rid of real Christmas trees. Many councils do a kerbside collection in the New Year or have drop off points somewhere in the borough. You can also take them to the tip or get a waste collector to come and pick it up.

Find out How to Recycle and Dispose of your Christmas Tree in London.



Regional guides

Below are rubbish removal guides for certain areas in the UK. They include all types of local waste solutions and recommendations. Find your town or city:

Milton Keynes
Windsor, Maidenhead & Surrey


Frequently asked questions

Is leaving rubbish beside recycling bins fly tipping?

The council consider it fly tipping if you leave items:

  • Next to street bins or recycling banks
  • On the floor of communal bin areas
  • Outside closed recycling centres and charity shops

It is not considered fly tipping if you have extra waste next to bins on your own private property.


Where does waste go once it's collected?

After collection, waste goes to treatment facilities. This could be a landfill site, an incineration plant or a recycling site. Non-recyclable waste often goes to landfill. Incineration plants generate energy by burning waste at very high temperatures. Recycling centres process recyclable materials to turn them into new products. 

Btw, LoveJunk averages 98% landfill diversion! We encourage all collectors to use zero-landfill sites where possible.


What are POPs?

POPs stands for Persistent Organic Pollutants which are very toxic chemicals that can exist in and threaten the environment for a very long time. POPs are often found in upholstered furniture and fabric for fire safety reasons.

Due to recent legislation, junk items containing POPs cost more to dispose of. Read more about POPs Furniture Disposal here.


Related Posts