Refuse collections – questions and answers

Below are answers to questions sometimes asked about refuse collections.

Can you accept ash, charcoal and other used fuels from solid fuel fires with refuse?
Yes, but do not put hot ash, charcoal or similar materials from fires, barbeques or portable barbeques in your refuse bin (or sack where still used). Allow ashes, charcoal etc to completely cool – or damp them down fully – before placing in the bin and please put in bags to keep ash contained when tipped.

What other materials should I avoid adding to my rubbish bin to avoid fire risks?

Given the risk of fire in your rubbish bin, in refuse lorries and at landfill sites, among the danger items that should never be added to your rubbish bin are:

  • Hot ash, charcoal or part-burned materials from domestic or garden fires, or static or portable barbeques. Let ash and portable barbeques completely cool, or fully damp down with water.
  • Household or vehicle batteries as these may short out or cause sparks. Recycle vehicle batteries through household collections or recycling sites. Take household batteries to recycling sites or high street stores that collect them.
  • Broken glass not carefully wrapped or bagged as it could act as a magnifying lens. Carefully wrap and bag broken glass, which should also never go in recycling boxes.
  • Aerosols as they may get hot or be pierced during the landfill process. Use up aerosols completely, do not squash, and then add them to recycling boxes.

If I put out additional refuse in sacks will it be collected?
No. Sacks outside your wheeled bin will not be collected, except after Chistmas and catch-up collections following severe weather. This is to encourage waste reduction and full use of recycling and composting services. If you occasionally have extra non-recyclable waste, this can be saved until your next collection or taken for disposal to a Recycling Centre. If, after recycling and composting, you still regularly have excess refuse, please contact customer services at your district council to apply for a larger wheeled bin.

How do you know wheeled bins provided for refuse are big enough?
Somerset Waste Partnership has been providing fortnightly refuse collections with wheeled bins and weekly food waste recycling since 2004, with these services provided throughout all five districts in the county since October 2011. The standard size of refuse bin provided is 180 litres. Many surveys have been undertaken and most households have indicated that these bins are big enough for their needs.

Can I get a smaller or bigger refuse bin?
Smaller wheeled bins (140 litres) can be provided, subject to availability. Larger bins are issued at Somerset Waste Partnership’s discretion to households that cannot reasonably be expected to contain their refuse in a standard size bin, after recycling and composting. Please contact customer services at your local council to apply. While the bin is free, there is usually a charge for new refuse bin deliveries.

Does it matter if I cannot close the lid on my wheeled bin?
Please do not overfill your wheeled bin. Lids that are not closed can be damaged, cause spillages and create operational and safety problems when they are emptied.

How can smells be avoided from refuse with fortnightly collections?
The weekly collections of food waste will minimise odours in your refuse wheeled bin. Other potentially smelly waste, such as nappies and pet litter, should be wrapped in plastic bags before placing in your refuse. If materials are properly wrapped and bin lids closed, this should avoid problems with odours and flies.

How can waste from disposable nappies be avoided?
Please consider using reusable washable cloth nappies. As well as terry nappies with modern wraps, there are many new alternatives with easy fastenings. Reusable nappies save money in the long term, as well as avoiding waste.

Can I use an ordinary dustbin instead of a wheeled bin?
No. Wheeled bins for refuse have been introduced partly to reduce manual handling injuries to refuse collectors, which can be caused by lifting heavy dustbins. Wheeled bins are lifted and emptied mechanically.

Can I use my own wheeled bin for refuse collections?
Only wheeled bins provided by Somerset Waste Partnership can be used. These are made from high quality recycled plastics and are compatible with our collection services. Other wheeled bins may not be safe to use with vehicle bin lifts and will not be emptied.