Skips are excellent for getting rid of most stuff, but for legal or practical reasons there are several items and materials that cannot be put in a skip and must be disposed of separately. Putting such things in a skip could result in the skip company refusing to remove it or charging you significantly more and, in certain circumstances, could even lead to you being criminally prosecuted. But have no fear – below is a list of the most popular items that will not be accepted by skip companies together with some additional information about why they are prohibited and how else you might dispose of them. Please note this is just a guide. Always contact your skip firm directly if you are unsure.
No appliances or electrical equipment like fridges, freezers, dishwashers or televisions can be put into a skip. All waste electricals (WEEE) must be taken to a registered WEEE recycling facility and cannot be mixed with other general waste. For WEEE disposal contact a specialist WEEE collection company or for additional guidance go to www.nidirect.gov.uk.
Skip companies will not take gas cylinders, whether full or empty. Residual contents of a gas cylinder are potentially dangerous and skip firms are not licensed to remove them. Try contacting the company who provided the gas cylinder as they are often happy to collect used cylinders for reuse and recycling. More information on disposing of gas cylinders can be found at www.bcga.co.uk and www.environment-agency.gov.uk.
Asbestos in skips is a big no-no. You must never put asbestos in a skip; it is hazardous and harmful, and the government has implemented certain laws which mean it’s illegal to reuse and recycle any asbestos material, or to dispose of it improperly. Asbestos must be removed by a specialist asbestos removal contractor. Your local council should always be your first port of call – if they don’t provide their own collection service, they will know of companies in your area that do. Alternatively go to www.gov.uk/asbestos-in-home.
No type of battery can be put in any skip. Batteries contain various metals and chemicals which mean they must be treated separately, so don’t put batteries in your skip, even small ones. You are better off taking them to battery recycling boxes at your local supermarket or petrol station, or search for your closest battery recycling centre at batterypack.org. Car batteries cannot be thrown away in skips either, because they contain high traces of lead. Lead is extremely poisonous and needs to be treated in a particular way. Try giving your local garage a phone for more advice on disposing of car batteries.
The same goes for paint, solvents and fuels. These are all chemical compounds, and a skip firm’s license does not cover them to dispose of hazardous waste like this, thus they cannot be placed in a skip. Fluorescent lighting tubes contain mercury, another hazardous chemical, so they too cannot just be chucked into your skip. These items require proper, licensed disposal, and must be taken to waste plants authorised to deal with them. Have a go using the government’s search tool for finding hazardous waste disposal services in your area: www.gov.uk/hazardous-waste-disposal
Medical waste must not be disposed of in ordinary skips – it risks infection and contamination, and needs to be dealt with by certain, licensed firms. Anything from used or unused needles to biological waste needs special treatment and is not suitable for skips. Contact the Department of Health for guidance on the proper disposal of medical waste.
Steer clear of putting plasterboard and gypsum waste in the skip – it’s not allowed. Government initiatives are aiming to recycle most plasterboard and gypsum waste, so it needs to be taken to specialised recycling plants, which you can find on the Waste & Resources Action Programme website, at www.wrap.org.uk. Plasterboard cannot be mixed with other types of rubbish, but some skip firms will accept it if it’s the only waste in the skip.
Tyres need a lot of TLC when being disposed of, and putting them in skips isn’t allowed. There’s a great post in AnyJunk’s blog all about getting rid of tyres properly – take a look at that for more info. Additional advice on reporting illegally-disposed-of tyres can be found here, www.environment-agency.gov.uk/tyres, on the Environment Agency’s website.
It’s good to understand that skip firms are charged if they put anything in landfill, (something called Landfill Tax), so they have a real incentive to recycle as much as possible. This is why they implement certain restrictions, because they only want to collect waste that they are covered to deal with properly. If there’s an item or type of waste you’re unsure of, contact the skip provider you choose, or try your local council. Both will have much more specific advice for your area, and individual skip firms may have rules and restrictions that differ from the guidelines we’ve explained here.
Now that you know what you can and cannot put in a skip, use our skip size guide to choose the right skip size for you, and then go ahead and search your postcode for the licensed skip firms that cover your area. Remember this list won’t be completely comprehensive, and each skip firm may enforce its own regulations. Make sure to contact the skip firm you use if you have any questions about specific items going in a skip.
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