The Waste Place
useful waste solutions

The Waste Place
useful waste solutions

Builders' Guide to Waste Disposal

Builders/Trades eBook Guide
Waste Disposal


Who for? Builder, plumber, electrician, plasterer, decorator, roofer, kitchen/bathroom fitter, joiner, glazier, tiler, floorer (did I miss anyone?? Let me know!)

One of the painful parts of any job can be the disposal of waste. This guide aims to simply illustrate the different options on small to medium scale building and trade jobs.

Whether you’re producing a single bin bag of waste, up to several tonnes of mixed construction waste, there is a solution and often a choice, about how you dispose of it. After a brief description of common waste types, you’ll get an outline of the options available, followed by a comparison of each and considerations as to which might be the best for a particular job.

This is written by someone who has been out there collecting waste from sites and seen people working hard yet throwing away money on disposal. Just doing what they’ve always done and being allowed to keep believing there weren’t other options and the over inflated prices were completely fair!

I.e. Asbestos is super expensive to get rid of! (It’s not cheap, but there are ways to keep costs sensible), and the old “plaster board being a nightmare to get rid of” passing comment (again, not much of an issue really!).

If you want some options and a little transparency on waste disposal, please, please, read on…

Typical Waste Types

This section is a quick dip in, dip out, as needed. It will offer a brief description of the more common waste types, followed by a little more detail on each. If you know about them already, I’m not going to teach you to suck eggs, so just skip on to your options and comparison. Or, if you want a little more detail and get bored of On The Tools videos, have a little read…

Common Construction and Demolition Waste Types

  • Rubble/Hardcore; Ceramic tiles, block work, paving stones, brick work. If in excess of 10 tonne, usually a grab lorry is the cheapest option.
  • Glass; Window panes, mirrors. Some amounts can normally be mixed in with rubble, but if for example you’re replacing 30 windows, then separate the panes and get a single purpose skip just for the glass. DO NOT pay mixed waste price on them! Frames free of glass are relatively cheap to dispose of (or should be!), as there are specialist companies who take this from the skip/waste transfer station companies.
  • Plasterboard; Gypsum products. Got to be kept separate these days, and always better kept dry if you’re paying by weight.
  • Wood; Wood frames, doors, door frames, roofing batons etc.
  • Metals (Scrap); Nice shiny stuff the grumpy man at the scrap yard (reluctantly) gives you money for! Most trades keep a bit of scrap back for Christmas, usually copper pipe. I’ll do another guide on this, as Christmas is the worst time and there’s probably equal value in the other stuff getting thrown in the skip!
  • Packaging; plastic film, polystyrene, cardboard. Super light, but fills a skip very quickly, so probably a DIY job!
  • Soil; usually without too much green waste in. If in large amounts, a grab truck can work really well and saves shifting it as far as a skip, if access allows.
  • Paint tins; usually taken empty, can be expensive per tin to shift. Metal tins can sometimes be mixed in with scrap steel, and smaller numbers mixed with general waste.
  • Asbestos; Expensive. But probably not as bad as you think! Do not try sneak it in as rubble. It is horrible stuff if not handled properly, just a little care and attention keeps everyone a little safer. Phone round, handle with care and wrap/transport properly.


(Skip, DIY, Man and Van, Grab Bag)

Firstly, how do most people decide on a waste disposal option?

Same way they choose a supplier, labourer or burger van!

They DON’T choose one!

They just do exactly what they did every other time, until they are forced into a situation they have to find something different. The usual labourer has decided to become a professional hair stylist, the burger van got closed down for food hygiene issues (what did you care, they tasted great!) and your supplier just went bust after half the builders on trade accounts didn’t pay within 30 days! (Joke!!!)

Don’t be on auto pilot when it comes to waste disposal, make a decision to put 10 minutes effort onto each job, and maybe save £100 per week and have an extra £5k in your pocket by the end of the year (minus tax obviously!).

Skip Company

This is the number one, go to place for medium to large jobs. Most people don’t even phone round to compare different skip companies, they just speed dial the one they usually use, even if the distance adds extra to the price. Plus, regardless of size of job, it’s usually a 6-8 yard skip, depending on the company, even if the job is smaller or larger, and a different size skip would have been more cost effective.

One thing I’ve heard from many builders is “yeh, Bob at Big Boy Skips gives me a special price…”

Well…um…not sure how to tell you…but…if everyone who thinks they get a special price, is actually getting that special price, it’s just the normal price!! Maybe you are good mates with Bob from school, and his misses and yours are good friends, but most people out there are being told they got a deal, or a special price, to make them feel special. The price list (if there is one) is for Mrs Miggins, who gets over charged most of the time, and Big Boy Bob is working his margin out on that very same “Special” price you get every time you ring. And you do keep ringing!

Having sounded slightly negative about skip companies, I have to add now, I actually think most are great and provide a good service. Plus, used with a bit of awareness (and many of you probably already are quite savvy!), they can be an awesome cost effective tool on the right job.

So, if your go to option is a 6-8 yard mixed waste (or C&D) skip, what are the other options?

Anything from a 2 yard, up to a full 40 yard Roll on, Roll off (RoRo), which can be for individual waste types, or mixed.

(More on estimating quantities at the end of this guide)

Mixed or C&D is probably going to be the most expensive, unless you have a load of carpet to get rid of (which might squeeze the price up a bit). Skip companies will assume a chunk of the weight will be made up of hardcore/rubble, which is cheap for them to dispose of (even getting paid for it, depending on company). And if the weight isn’t made up of rubble, then the weight of the skip will be relatively low, which is great for them, as they pay to dispose of waste on a per tonne price!

By making a good estimation on quantity, you can better gauge what size skip you need, and if it would be better to get a couple of single waste stream skips, or use a hybrid of system.

I decent size skip company will probably bring a skip out with 1 or 2 days notice, which is great. You might need a permit if it’s going on the road, and usually the skip company can arrange this (although be aware it can bump the price up!). Collection of the skip or a swap for some reason seems to be less of a priority for some skip companies, but being super nice to the office, annoying the hell out of them, or getting your misses to phone, usually sorts that problem!

Some of your customers may not understand there will be waste produced, and really don’t want a bloody great, dirty, skip on their drive! And they want it gone ASAP when THEY think the waste producing part of the job is done! The upside is, a skip does keep the waste quite tidy compared to other options. Beyond that, stay calm, and good luck. This is a waste disposal guide, not a dealing with customers guide!

Skip companies don’t like plaster board anywhere other than a plaster board skip! You can push your luck on this sometimes, but expect an extra charge at some point. One thing to consider is, does the extra charge balance favourably to the cost of getting a second skip? In which case, say sorry, and pay the man!

And on that, rubble skip are the cheapest option, and there’s a lot of things that look a bit like rubble…just saying! (As a bonus tip, remember that whatever you throw/hide in the bottom, is what will be on the top when the skip is emptied! However, the middle will still be the middle!)

Final pointers for skip companies:

·        Compare prices (they vary so much on area)

·        Make sure you make an assessment on cheap waste streams coming out

·        Be super friendly with the office people

·        Have a laugh and a joke with the driver (they don’t see anyone for most of the day, and are super helpful if you have a chat and a joke)

·        If possible, deal direct with the driver, especially if you find out they have some autonomy on jobs

·        Ask for a discount (obviously), especially if you’re after multiple skips

·        Check details on what can actually go in a “mixed” skip

·        Check restrictions and extra charges for how long you have the skip, and road permits

Do It Yourself!

Most trades’ people have a vehicle, and some even have space! So an obvious option is to dispose of the waste yourself, and in fact many businesses actually do this. The only thing you need is a little knowledge on waste types, a Waste Carriers Licence and to know where the nearest Waste Transfer Station is.

Legally, you cannot carry business waste on/in your vehicle, without a Waste Carriers Licence. These are cheap, and last 3 years, so there really is no excuse not to get one. Go to, it’s a really straight forward section (do not go to one of the alternative websites which aren’t, as it’s so easy, you really don’t need to pay someone else to do it!). Fill in the details, and pay £154 (correct as of Nov 2017) for the three years, and BOOM, you’re legal!

A Waste Transfer Station should check you have a waste carriers licence and turn you away if not. Search for your nearest one on, or google. The process is usually straight forward, with signage explaining what to do. If not obvious, wind down your window and shout at someone. You may find all you get is pointing, but at least you’ll know which way to go. Medium to large transfer stations should have a weighbridge, which is the most accurate method and gives you the most protection on paying the correct price. If unsure what waste category you have, explain at the desk what you have and they should point you in the right direction. They often see a lot of people in a day and can look a little bored and unhelpful, so if unsure, always ask!

Some smaller transfer stations I’ve known take the “guess-timation” method. I personally hate this as it involves them having a look and picking a price out of the air. Just remember they will err on the side of profit for them and a nice new vehicle will probably add a premium! Check prices before going, and when you find one with sensible prices, stick with it when nearby, as it also allows you to build a relationship, and can lead to a little flexibility when tipping your waste!

All transfer stations should give you a ticket and receipt after payment. The ticket is a Waste Transfer Note, and a legal requirement. If the Environment Agency check on you, you will need to show tickets for waste you disposed of. I am aware of at least one transfer station where cash payments were handled without tickets and receipts (yet still incurred VAT for some reason!!)

One issue with DIY is transfer stations usually having a minimum charge by weight. So if you have a mixed waste load, from a small job, and it only weighs 200kg, then you are still going to be charged for half a tonne worth, by most. Some do go from 250kg on some waste types, and rubble usually has a full tonne minimum. However, if you were going to get a small skip anyway, half a tonne is still probably cheaper than the skip would have cost!

The down side of course is you will have to lump it into the van, and back out again, plus the length of time to drive to the transfer station. As an aside, I’ve personally gone through a fair few tyres and ripped off a hose which had something to do with the clutch, while driving round transfer stations!

Man and Van

We’ve all seen them around, and quite a few do use them. A couple of guys in a big old cage tipper, rammed with all manner of random rubbish in the back, touting “cheaper than a skip!”.

This is in part my back ground, so I should probably lean more towards this option. However, in honesty, it isn’t always the best option. It is an awesome option in certain cases though!

Man and Van rubbish clearance has actually come a long way, even if the majority of people haven’t noticed, and there are a few large nationwide companies now, and some regional ones doing very well. Plus, even local ones are taking on a better “business” and “customer service” approach. Not to say there aren’t still a few cowboys out there, but the same as the building trade, they aren’t the norm these days!

Some of the plus points of a man and van clearance is flexibility. You can usually organise a time to suit, so if you know you are carrying out a rip out of a bathroom on a certain day, the waste can be gone that afternoon, which keeps the customer happy. Also, if there is nowhere to put a skip, such as in some apartment blocks, it could be a better option than doing it yourself. Added to this, you don’t have to lump all the rubbish to a skip, but can leave it somewhere closer to where you are working, and the people who turn up will most likely include an element of labour in the cost.

With the rise of larger van clearance companies, there is a little more consistency, and most work on a pricing system based on skip sizes, so you can get a fair estimate on cost. Usually the cost is less, or similar to, skip companies. And you don’t generally get penalised for not filling the whole van, or having a “light” load.

On the down side is uncertainty. If you know you would normally charge the customer for a 7 yard skip for waste disposal, this can be thrown into the quote for the job, but with a van clearance service, you may not know the cost until the end the job! It is hard to estimate job size for this method and may vary quite a lot between companies. If the company uses skip sizing, you are quite entitled to argue the toss on a quote, and some even use in built scales on vehicles, so you really do only pay for what is taken away!

The key, as with anything, is phone round and get some quotes. Quoting over the phone, or even from pictures, is tough, but at least you’ll get a ball park figure. For info on estimating sizing at the end, (and I do plan on a guide on estimating waste produced on a job very soon!).

Grab Bag

We’ve all driven past, if not used, Hippo Bags. Many companies do them, and for smaller loads these can be really useful. Even for big jobs, they are being used more and more. It is very similar to skips really, but with a few key differences.

You can go get the bag yourself, or even have it delivered, so you have somewhere to put the waste when you need it. It keeps the waste nice and tidy, in one place. They can be a bugger to start stacking in! Having the grab arm means they can go in places skips can’t. It also means some places they can’t go at all!

Pricing can be a little cheaper than a skip and there is some flexibility in this option, which makes it a consideration on small and medium sized jobs. Just don’t leave it with the new labourer to put somewhere and fill! You know he’ll put it in the closest possible place, probably round the back under low hanging trees and then not understand why he now has to empty the whole bag and move it!


Disposal Method

Time Involved



Not rubble!


Best Scenarios



Assuming skip can be placed in sensible place


Skip is the middle of the road in effort, and what everyone is used to.

2yd £££


8yd £££

Space, permit, access

Drive way, garden access


Longer time period

Loading van is same as skip, or longer, plus the driving and unloading

More sweat!

2yd ££


8yd £

Space on van, time

Medium sized jobs and a tipper style vehicle. Lots of wood or rubble.


Can be quicker

Possible waste can be left closer to where work is being done, and other people do the moving for you.

Less sweat!

2yd £


8yd ££

Parking, pricing not always clear till job done

Poor access areas, such as flats, terraces. Small collections.

Grab Bag


Can be restricted for location, but balances with skip overall. May take a little bit longer, due to stacking issues in bag.


2yd ££


8yd ££

Over hanging trees, space to leave bag

Space in garden, accessible with grab arm, smaller collections, single waste streams


If you ask a skip company what size you need, they may well tell you how may domestic bin bags fit in a certain size skip. This is not super helpful when you’re trying to work out what size skip you need for a kitchen rip out and fitting. Likewise a man and van may give you a rough idea based on skip yards and take a look, estimating how much of their vehicle it might fill. They will usually have a good idea from previous experience, but things can vary a great deal from estimate, through to completion.

Following is a few bits of information to help you estimate certain jobs into yards of waste:

Walls etc…

If you let a skip company know you’re in need of a skip for bricks/rubble, they’ll probably tell you 1 yard will be equal to 1 tonne and this is the generally accepted rule of thumb. However, you now have to work out how many tonnes of bricks are in the wall you’re knocking down!

This actually isn’t too bad, as you will have some idea how many brick/blocks you need to replace an existing wall, or wall of similar size, so taking a guesstimate based on brick weight is the best approach.

As a guide, with house bricks and concrete blocks averaging similar weight to volume, 1 square metre of single layer blocks is equal to 150-200kg. Using a rule of 5 square metres to 1 tonne, is probably a safe bet!

There is a lot of variety in blocks, so if you know the blocks are dense, this would increase the weight, but not the volume. So if you are paying per skip, the overall weight doesn’t really matter.

Around 100 perfectly stacked concrete blocks will give you near enough 1 square metre, which is a little over 1 yard, and would weigh around 1.5 tonne, depending on density. Most people just throw stuff into a skip, so immediately you need more yards than you might think. With a margin for error, allow cubic 1 yard of waste, for every 4.5 square metres of blocks.

Don’t forget to double for double layered walls!

Kitchen Rip-Out and fitting…

Kitchens are incredibly varied, and this could be a full guide on its own! So, in the interest of sticking too this being useful, I’ll leave the workings out and variables and try to give a simple tool to estimate with:

Taking simple measurements of length around current kitchen

Each metre of base units (inc work top) and packaging from new units= 0.3 yards

Each metre of wall units, including packaging from new units = 0.2 yards

Each square metre of tiling = 0.02 yards

Add 1 yard for assorted waste, and 0.7 yards for each appliance (not fridge/freezer)

Flooring would be added separately, but probably only adds on half a yard in most cases.

Important thing with this is to at least take a little care over stacking waste, to make best use of space! If you are OCD and stack like a jigsaw, you can probably take off 20% at least, but if you throw the waste in blind folded, then expect to need something 30-50% bigger than these measurements work out!


This is just a snap shot, to broaden your view on options, with a little practical information thrown in. I will add to this over time, and if anyone wants anything added, or think something needs changing, get in touch at!

Thanks for reading!

Dan: 23rd Nov 2017 15:23:00

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