Recycling when Renovating

We’re all used to recycling some of our day-to-day waste at home. Separating paper, plastic and glass is a relatively normal task and we all see the benefit of doing it. In facet, over 44% of UK household waste is now recycled which compares favourably with other countries.

When it comes to larger household projects such as renovations there is, in contrast, little awareness of the need to sort and recycle. Very often a household will hire a contractor without questioning their green credentials or hire a skip themselves and simply fill it with whatever waste was generated.

There are many types of waste that must be sent for specialist disposal, in particular this applies to part-used paint tins. These cannot go to landfill or into a skip and must be disposed at a local council facility.

On a practical level the best approach is to start by separating the different types of waste that your project generates. Generally renovation waste falls into three categories;

Specialist waste

This type of waste includes electrical items, tyres, batteries, plasterboard, gas cylinders and paint. Generally they are difficult to recycle and are mostly disposed of in a specialist facility. The best place to find information about where to take them is often from your local council.


Recyclables are the different things at can be reused. This includes the types that we are familiar with such as paper, plastic and glass but also includes furniture and good quality wood or soil. It would be ideal to try and reuse some of these things yourself but if you can’t there are several online services that will accept donations.

Landfill Waste

Sending waste to landfill should be the last resort when it comes to disposal. Where different types of waste are mixed together or they cannot be recycled then there is often no choice. This would include mixed rubble, bricks and non-electrical household fittings. If you are generating large volumes of waste that it is much better if you can separate it at source, perhaps consider getting two skips, one for soil or rubble and the other for more difficult mixed waste. According to the Government Statistical Service, currently about 26% of non-recyclable waste goes to landfill, but with more careful separation this number could be greatly reduced.

Who can help?

All businesses that handle or transport waste now need to be registered with the Environment Agency. This ensures that they meet minimum standards of disposal and are generally responsible in their operations. If you need to dispose of bulky waste then you should contact a local operator or work through a national processor such as SkipScanner who can direct you to a licenced waste carrier near you.

Hiring a Skip

If you do need to dispose of bulky waste, you will probably need to hire a skip. If you hire a skip you are not allowed to fill it over the top, if you do, the skip hire company will more than likely refuse to collect it as they can be fined for transporting and disposing of an overloaded skip.

If your project is a small cleanup or renovation then a Mini or Midi sized skip will suffice. they are measured in cubic yards and typically one cubic yard will hold between ten and fifteen bin bags of waste.

You should also be aware that, if you want to place a skip on a public road or pavement you will need a permit from your Local Council. These can range in cost from about £15 up to £100 depending on your area. Your skip hire operator will be able to arrange this for you as needed. Also, when a skip is placed on a public road, it will need to be clearly marked and lit at night.