Declutter Your House: How to Get Rid Yourself of Bulky Waste

There are many ways to dispose of bulky waste and the emphasis doesn’t have to be on actual waste disposal. With ‘recycle, reuse, reduce’ now being the mantra reminding us what to consider each time we need to get rid of something, it’s useful to know what our options are when it comes to getting rid of those common, but bulkier, household items – in responsible, environmentally-conscious ways.

Step 1: Identify the items

Bulky waste includes those domestic items which are too large for general waste collection. This might include furniture and appliances, such as:

  • Sofas
  • Dishwashers
  • Fridges
  • Freezers
  • Beds and mattresses

Whilst garden waste may also be included, as some councils allow green items in bulky waste collections, waste relating to home improvements, building works, or removal of hazardous waste or materials such as asbestos, is not permitted as ‘bulky waste’.

Step 2: Identify the options

Once you’ve identified which of your items need disposing of under the bulky waste banner, what are the options for seeing it on its way? Most households use one of the following options:

  • Council bulky waste collection – most councils run a bulky waste collection service, although this usually needs booking well in advance and can be costly. It’s advisable to research the costs involved as, and the number of eligible items for a collection, varies between local authorities. You can find a useful map of local authority collection charges on Collect Your Old Bed’s website.
  • Like-for-like removal by retailers and manufacturers – if you’re buying a new item, such as a sofa or appliance, ask the retailer or manufacturer if they’ll take away the old one when they deliver the new one, as one of the easiest ways to get your item removed.
  • Reuse by selling or giving away the item – online platforms such as Gumtree, eBay and Facebook selling groups make selling your pre-used items easy. You can also use these platforms to give items away by listing them as ‘free to collector’. Alternatively, you could offer unwanted items through Freegle / Freecycle.
  • Recycling the item – by transporting it yourself to a local recycling centre (RecycleNow offer a useful facility for finding your nearest one). Alternatively, if the item’s clean and usable, you can recycle it through donation to a local community centre, charity shop, or furniture re-use organisation.
  • Collection by a private company – from white goods to sofas, to beds and mattresses, private companies which remove bulky items are plentiful in the UK. It’s important to choose a reputable service though (see more below).
  • Fixing the item rather than dumping it – particularly if you have an appliance to dispose of – if it’s fixable it can often be usable, either to yourself of someone else. If you want to try a repair but don’t know how, websites such as E Spares has how-to videos across popular appliances ranges, whilst ifixit.com offers written guides and forums of advice for fixing many types of item.

Many local areas have reconditioned appliance shops which will remove your white goods items if they think repair is possible: you get it collected for free and without hassle, someone else gets a reconditioned appliance at a price they can afford, plus a potentially usable item stays out of landfill.

Step 3: Identify the responsible routes for disposal

If you’re dropping an item off to the recycling centre yourself, or a charity or retailer service is picking it up, then that’s all good. However, if you’ve arranged a collection and disposal service yourself, it’s important to use licensed waste carriers – whether this is a council contractor or a private company.

This is to ensure that they are a legitimate service and not potential fraudsters. Reputable companies should have a website which will offer the information you need to check license and carrier service information. You can cross-check this using the Environment Agency Public Register.

Unlicensed carriers are frequently those who end up fly-tipping your unwanted items, something which you can be fined up to £5,000 for (The Telegraph), so check out that the collection service is licensed.

This way, you stand a much better chance of ensuring that your bulky waste is removed and responsibly disposed of. Job done. Or is it …

Reflecting on ‘responsible’ disposal

Actually, there’s a big difference between responsible disposal and environmentally-conscious disposal which is cleaner and greener for the environment. Taking your old freezer or bed to the tip, having the council or a licensed, reputable company come take these items away is of course a responsible way to dispose of them – because they don’t end up littering roadsides, or being fly-tipped on private land.

Unfortunately, without thoroughly checking the disposal methods used, your bulky waste items could still end up languishing in landfill, slowly rotting and leeching poisons into the landscape, not exactly environmentally conscious.

So if you can’t pass your item on to someone else to reuse and you want to ensure recycling, what options are you left with for taking greater responsibility and disposing in a more environmentally-friendly way?

Step 4: Identify the recycling routes for disposal

Whether you’re getting the local council to remove the items, or a private company, always ask exactly how they’re going to dispose of the item once they’ve collected it, to check that the emphasis is on recycling rather than rubbishing.

Companies such as Collect Your Old Bed will literally come and do just that, but with an assurance that the bed items (including mattress, timber and metal components) are fully stripped down and will be 100% recycled. UK-wide services like this make it easy to ensure that you can dispose of bulky waste such as beds in a totally environmentally conscious way.

This removal and recycling guarantee is the kind of standard to look for with all types of bulky waste disposal, so it remains neither bulky, nor waste for very long but can rebound back into use, facilitating all aspects of recycle, reuse, reduce and responsible disposal.

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