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by Craig Pryce February 22, 2019

Have you ever been taking the bins out to their collection point and wondered what that strange sticker or stamp is on the side or top of your wheelie bin, or why your wheelie bin has a decibel rating? You aren’t alone, as many people find themselves asking the same question — both at home and in work environments.

So, why does your rubbish bin have a decibel rating?

The law on decibel ratings & wheelie bins

Back in 1993, the European Commission identified noise as a common and pressing issue in urban areas across Europe — an issue that needed addressing.

Following this, the Outdoor Noise Directive 2000/14/EC (OND) was launched, which regulates noise emissions by outdoor equipment — this includes 57 types of outdoor equipment, which is mainly machinery (lawnmowers, etc.), but also bins.

Manufacturers now have to produce an EC declaration of conformity (DoC) to the Directive for any of the listed outdoor equipment being sold in Europe. They also have to declare the decibel rating on the equipment itself through a stamp or sticker.

Directive 2000/14/EC can be summarised like this: Certain outdoor equipment needs to declare its decibel rating and must also lower its decibel rating if it is deemed too loud.

wheelie bins decibel rating

How many decibels can a wheelie bin produce?

The most noise a wheelie bin can make, be it from slamming the lid down or wheeling it along, is 91dB. That figure is for larger (4-wheel) bins, however the smaller 2-wheel bins, such as the ones used by local councils, can create a maximum of 89dB.

To give you an idea of how loud 89dB is, it is a similar noise level to (in fact, a little louder than) both a food blender or a dishwasher, when you are standing next to them while they are in use.

You can locate the decibel rating on your bin by looking for a number with dB next to it, and an image of a loudspeaker.

Wheelie bins are actually designed in such a way that when the bin lid is dropped from a height, a cushion of air is created which buffers the lid's landing on the bin itself. With modern lids, the noise related to bins tends to come from wheeling it around instead — a noise which differs depending on the location and surface.

Of course, while the bin itself might conform to the Directive and make an acceptable level of noise, the same can often not be said of the rubbish inside — especially when it comes to glass recycling bins.

Glass bins can create a noise every single time someone uses them, and also a very loud noise when they are being emptied — an issue which can sometimes cause frustration in town and city centres when bins are emptied near city centre apartments, and even in rural areas when pubs have their waste collected.

What is noise nuisance?

Noise nuisance is an unreasonable or excessive level of noise. To determine if noise is unreasonable or excessive, you need to take the following factors into consideration:

  • Noise volume
  • Time of day
  • Source or cause of the noise
  • Persistence of the noise

An example of this could be a disruption of sleep. For this reason, waste management teams tend to try and plan their collection routes in a way which sees glass recycling bins being emptied later in the day where possible. Nobody wants to be woken at 4am by the sound of 500 bottles breaking!

Want to know about some surprising uses for bins? Read our 6 alternative uses for wheelie bins blog post.

Craig Pryce

Craig Pryce