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What can you put in a skip? Understanding skip hire restrictions

Hiring a skip is the most practical solution for getting rid of unwanted household items, particularly when you have a renovation project on the go or are in the middle of a house clearance.

The process of using a skip isn’t, however, simply a case of chucking in everything you no longer want. There are skip hire restrictions in place that determine what can and can’t be put in a skip. Some items pose a risk to public health or are considered dangerous, so require an alternative method of disposal.

What happens if you put restricted items into a skip?

If you put restricted items into a skip, and in order to protect their licence, your skip hire company could well refuse to take the entire skip away until the problem is rectified. Chances are, you’ll be charged for the extra time it takes to resolve the situation as well as for any wasted journeys.

To avoid this happening, we’ve compiled the following list of what you can and can’t put in a skip.

What can you put in a skip?

Let’s start with the easy part; what you can put in a skip. Thankfully, you can actually put the vast majority of household waste in a skip, which is why hiring a skip makes house and general waste clearances so much easier.

Here is a list of some items you can put in a skip:

  • Rubble and bricks
  • Wood
  • Non-electrical fittings
  • Garden waste such as leaves, branches, grass cuttings, flowers
  • Garden items such as bird feeders, garden accessories and gazebos
  • Non-electrical garden tools
  • Uncontaminated soil – but it is worth mentioning this to your skip hire company before placing an order because larger skips can become too heavy for lifting onto the truck when filled with compacted soil
  • Furniture – intact and broken
  • Bathroom furniture – baths, sinks and toilets
  • Plastic packaging
  • Metal items
  • Clothes and textiles
  • Tiles
  • Carpet – preferably folded to keep it below the maximum fill level
  • Glass – following basic safety precautions and preferably in sheets
  • Glass bottles and tins

What can you put in a skip but could be recycled?

There are some items that can be put in a skip but should be recycled if possible, or destroyed.

Paper can usually be recycled, but if it’s printed paper that holds personal or sensitive information, it should be shredded. Shredded paper is very difficult to recycle because paper mills can’t process it, so not all recycling centres accept it. In such cases, the shredded paper can be put in your skip (or thrown away with your usual household waste).

Recyclable items such as clothes, toys, books, bottles, tins, paper, cardboard and plastics can be put in your skip, but they can also put in your recycling bin (with the exception of some variations) to dispose of them in a more environmentally friendly way.

What items are restricted from being put in your skip?

Now we get to the crux of the matter! What can’t you put in your skip?

The general rule of thumb is that any items that are hazardous cannot be put in your skip due to the damage they can cause to people or the environment.

Here is a list of items you can’t put in your skip. This list is not exhaustive. If you are in any doubt about whether an item that is not on this list might be restricted from being put in a skip, simply ask your skip hire company for advice. Also, your skip hire company may have a specialist license for the removal of some of these items but they will need to know about them in advance.

  • Asbestos – bit of a no-brainer. Asbestos is a serious health hazard and should only be removed and disposed of by licensed companies.
  • Medical waste – this poses a health risk to waste disposal operatives. You should get advice from your local council on how to dispose of medical waste.
  • Tyres – if disposed of as general waste, tyres can pollute land, water and the air with chemicals, and facilitate the breeding of disease-carrying vermin. They should be recycled or taken to designated centres.
  • Plasterboard – under government guidelines, plasterboard cannot be disposed of in skips, unless your skip hire company has a license to dispose of plasterboard using specialist tools. This is because plasterboard contains gypsum, a raw material that can produce a highly toxic gas when disposed of with biodegradable waste.
  • Mattresses – when mattresses decompose, chemical reactions can emit dangerous greenhouse gases if mixed with certain types of rubbish. Your skip hire company may be able to dispose of mattresses safely at an extra cost.
  • Light bulbs and fluorescent tubes – fluorescent tubes and LEDs contain materials that are harmful to the environment if not correctly disposed of.
  • Electrical equipment – under the government WEEE guidance (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), electrical equipment cannot be put in a skip. The guidance was set up to reduce the amount of electrical equipment being incinerated or sent to landfill. These include large and small household appliances and IT and telecoms equipment. Under this classification, however…
    • TVs, computers, monitors and laptops all contain toxic chemicals including mercury and lead and must be disposed of through local recycling or specialist centres.
    • White goods such as fridges, freezers and washing machines may contain hazardous chemicals or POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) in components such as circuit boards, motors and some plastic parts. As such they need to be disposed of through licensed waste management.
  • Batteries – a number of poisonous chemicals are found in batteries including mercury, lead and nickel so they need to be disposed of as a hazardous item.
  • Paint, fuel and solvents – only licensed waste companies can dispose of paint, fuel and solvents because they contain harmful compounds. Paint tins cannot be put in a skip unless they are completely empty.

Please note that the information in this article is for guidance only. For further advice on what can and cannot be put in a skip, always speak to your skip hire company. This will prevent collection issues and ensure your compliance with current legislation.