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by Craig Pryce March 22, 2019

Most people have considered putting rubbish in someone else’s wheelie bin before — whether it was at home because their own bin was full prior to collection day, or out and about where there were no litter bins in the area. After all, surely that’s a better option than littering.

However, there’s often something that holds people back from placing waste in someone else’s wheelie bin — a sense that you might be doing something wrong. People often ask us, as wheelie bin retailers, if we know if it is illegal to put rubbish in someone else’s bin. This question leads us to a little bit of a debatable grey area, so let’s look at the facts.

When is disposing of waste illegal?

The following methods of waste disposal are illegal in the UK:

  • Littering
  • Fly-tipping
  • Putting your bin out on the wrong day! You may not believe this, but some local councils class a bin full of waste on the kerbside on a non-collection day as fly-tipping, so always double-check your dates before leaving your wheelie bin out.

These illegal methods are aimed more at waste disposal companies:

  • Disposing of waste in or on land without a waste management licence, or knowingly permitting someone else to do so.
  • Waste purposefully being labelled incorrectly — for example, hazardous waste not being declared as such.
  • Illegally exporting waste

So, is using someone else’s bin illegal?

using someone else's wheelie bin

It could be argued that using a neighbour’s rubbish bin is fly tipping — after all, you are taking waste that you can’t dispose of at home and placing it in public, rather than taking it to your local waste recycling site to be disposed of correctly. Yes, even if it’s just a singular drink cup! Additionally, you are disposing of your waste in a bin that was specifically provided for use by or owned by someone else. On top of that, you are technically trespassing if the bin is on your neighbour’s property!

Legalities aside, it’s also worth mentioning here that from a moral point of view, it is probably more acceptable to pop some rubbish in someone else’s bin when it’s fairly empty — rather than when it’s nearly full. Remember, if you fill it to the point where the lid doesn’t sit flush to the bin, the waste management team will probably not empty it and the result will be a very irate neighbour.

Talk to your neighbours

If you do find yourself with too much waste one month at home and nowhere to put it, why not avoid any trouble and just kindly ask your neighbour if they have any space in their bin this week for your extra items. If so, great! If not, don’t worry — just head to your local waste recycling site and dispose of it there instead.

If you find yourself often requiring more space in your bin, it might be time to carry out a waste audit and see where you can cut down, or you could ask the council for a larger bin. If you’re a business, simply buy a larger wheelie bin or ask your waste management team to carry out a new audit.

Interested in wheelie bins? Find out why wheelie bins have a decibel rating in this recent blog post.

Craig Pryce

Craig Pryce