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by Craig Pryce June 12, 2020

We’ve all seen the stories in the news about council refuse collectors refusing to empty bins if they’re ‘too heavy’, so that leaves many people wondering if wheelie bins come with a set weight limit.

Generally, wheelie bins are sold by volume, so you’ll buy or be provided with a 240-litre bin, for example, and know that you can fit that specific volume of waste inside.

However, wheelie bins are very robust and so don’t come with weight guidance — after all, how heavy can you make a 240l bin? Well, some people make them fairly heavy, it must be said!

In this article, we take a look at what constitutes a heavy bin and how you can avoid creating one and therefore ensure your wheelie bins are emptied on collection day.

Why is there a weight limit for wheelie bins?

While refuse sacks have to be lifted manually by refuse collectors, wheelie bins are lifted up by and emptied into waste trucks.

While workers have to manoeuvre the bins back and forth from your collection point, wheelie bins can contain heavier waste than refuse sacks as pulling and pushing is different from lifting.

However, every truck has its limits.

A common weight lift limit for household waste collection trucks is 30kg per bin — after this point, it would be unsafe for a bin to be lifted into the air containing such heavy waste.

Not only would it be unsafe in case it damaged the truck but health and safety dictates that it would be putting the refuse collectors at risk too, and so if your wheelie bin is this heavy (or heavier) on collection day, then it is guaranteed that it will not be emptied.

Please bear in mind that private waste collection companies may be able to collect heavier bins from you, but may charge per kg over a certain limit.

green wheelie bin on street

How to deal with the wheelie bin weight limit

There are two times at which you need to deal with the wheelie bin weight limit — firstly, before collection day and secondly after collection day, if your bin hasn’t been emptied.

Before collection day

It can be difficult to avoid making your bin too weighty when weight limits often aren’t made public knowledge.

However, you can do your best by making a conscious effort not to fill your waste containers with heavy items.

Full recycling bins tend to be fairly light, and general waste bins should be too, but garden waste bins can run into problems.

Plants and small branches are the usual culprits, adding weight to your bin.

Make sure you aren’t piling soil or rubble in your bins, too — that needs to be dealt with separately.

If you have a lot of heavy rubbish to get rid of, you are best to take it to the local recycling centre or hire a skip.

After collection day

If you find your wheelie bin hasn’t been emptied on collection day, you will see a tag or sticker on it that highlights the reason why.

If the tag states that your bin is too heavy, you will need to remove some of the heavier items from your wheelie bin before putting it out for collection on your next collection date.

If the bin is full or you need more room in your wheelie bin before the next collection, it might be worth taking your waste to your local recycling centre or, if you deal with a waste management company, you could request an extra collection.

If you always produce more waste than your bins can store, you could try cutting down on the waste that you produce and, if that isn’t successful, you could request a larger bin or ask if you are able to buy one yourself.

Craig Pryce
Craig Pryce


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