9 August 2019
Bulky Waste Recycling
Read Time: 4 mins
Over 1.6m tonnes of bulky waste is thrown away in the UK every year, according to the RSA, with the vast majority of this waste still going to landfill.
What is bulky waste?
Bulky waste includes sofas, beds, mattresses, chairs, tables, wardrobe, chest of draws – almost anything found in a home or business which you can’t dispose of in your bin, with the exception of construction waste!
The most popular bulky waste items disposed of at Household Waste Recycling Centres are sofas, followed by wardrobes, beds and armchairs. Over 130,000 tonnes of sofas were disposed of alone according to a WRAP report, rising to over 200,000 once armchairs and chairs are included in this total.
Why is so much bulky waste sent to landfill?
Historically the vast majority of bulky waste has been collected either from the kerbside by your local council or you have taken the items directly to a HWRC. Councils tend to have a relatively low landfill diversion, with the majority of bulky waste ending up in landfill or best case incineration.
Bulky waste is generally a difficult waste stream to process as it can very easily clog up or break machinery, due to the sheer variance in items collected. For example a wardrobe is relatively easy to break down and separate constituent parts for recycling, where as a recliner sofa is very difficult.
Alternative ways to have your bulky furniture collected
Commercial operators such as Clearabee offer a very convenient, environmentally friendly and cost effective way to have your old furniture taken away on demand. We offer same day sofa removal and almost any bulky waste as well as a next day skip hire service. Our rubbish clearance service is carbon neutral, and both our skip hire and clearance service offer landfill diversion rates for bulky waste of over 95% nationwide.
What about re-use?
Re-use is better than recycling. The WRAP report estimates that just under 50% of the items which were delivered to council HWRC’s could be reused in their current condition or with slight repair. This would equate to approximately 110,000 tonnes of furniture which could be re-used.
There are however a lot of variance across categories of bulky waste, with items such as wardrobes rarely easily re-usable, but items such as sofas and tables very often reusable.
In addition to quality, the presence of fire labels is a major factor in re-use potential. Under current legislation soft bulky waste furnishings like sofas, headboards, mattresses and some chairs cannot be re-used unless the fire label is attached. Only around 50% of armchairs and chairs had these fire labels attached, and only 33% of headboards, in the WRAP report.
Another barrier to bulky waste reuse is matching people needing to get rid of their bulky waste with those who want to re-use it. By its nature, bulky waste is large and usually requires at least two people and a large vehicle such as a van to transport.