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A guide to bins and waste management

It’s a dirty job, and actually quite important to do it right!

Choosing the best bin and waste options for your business makes daily work more productive and can make it more pleasant and safe for staff as well as improving efficiency, reducing costs and ensuring you meet important health and hygiene regulations and improve the sustainability of your business.

Here’s a guide to choosing the right bins and waste options to suit your needs and budget.

These three questions need to be considered for each kind of bin or waste option you need in different areas of your business.

  • What type of bin do you need?

  • What material should bins and waste storage be made of?

  • What size do you need and how many?

As a first step, you’ll need a clear idea of what kind of waste your business produces and how much and how quickly this waste is produced. You can find a step by step guide to carrying out a waste audit here.

Make a note of:

  • What kinds of waste are produced

  • How much is produced per collection period (e.g. weekly or fortnightly)

  • What kinds of waste are generated in different areas and whether they are being put into the correct bins.

  • Who is collecting the waste and how -- can the collector manage to move the waste from a larger bin or do you need to make sure the bin is smaller so the person who disposes of the waste can carry it safely?

This process in itself can help you save money as you can identify, for example, if you are wasting too much of a particular kind of food or if you have a lot of paper waste, replacing, fixing or regular servicing of a photocopier or printer or devising paperless systems can mean you save on the waste you are producing.

Once you have a note of the main categories of waste you produce and how much, you can re-examine the bins you have and what you need.

Types of bins:

Smaller indoor bins (for kitchens and offices)

  • Pedal bins - Pedal bins allow hands-free waste disposal which is hygienic and reduces the risk of cross-contamination of bacteria - particularly important in food prep areas, clinical spaces and bathrooms. The foot pedal is also useful if staff need to dispose of larger amounts of waste which need both hands to carry and the lid helps to minimise odours.

  • Swing bins - Swing bins close automatically, are usually pretty simple and hard to break and lower in price than other kinds of bins. This swing top can also be detached and cleaned more easily than other kinds of bins. However, because they need to be touched by hand, these are better for offices and areas such as reception rather than kitchens or bathrooms where there is a higher risk of transferring bacteria. It’s a good idea to provide handwashing facilities nearby so staff can clean their hands after touching the lid.

  • Bullet bins - basically these bins are designed to look good, with small openings that you can open by touch, push, rolling the lid. They are good for public areas but complex opening mechanisms, small size and the need to touch the lid mean they’re not ideal for areas where there is lots of waste or risk of cross-contamination.

Sack holders

A great low-cost solution for areas where lots of waste is collected and appearance isn’t too much of an issue. These are essentially frames with lids that you can attach a sack to under a lid and just remove the sack when you need to dispose of it.

Sack holders can also come on trolleys which helps if the waste is being moved around or needs to be segregated quickly. Kitchens, hotels, retail venues and food businesses can find these useful.

Wheelie bins

Sizes typically range from 120 litres to 1100 litres. They are the most common type of commercial bins and are used for general waste, glass, food, cardboard, and mixed recycling.

Made from heavy-duty plastic, wheelie bins many wheelie bins are also suitable for outdoor use and are chemical resistant, allowing them to be safely used for hazardous waste. Many come in different colours such as red, blue, green, yellow which can be useful if recycling different materials. The main benefit of course is they are easy to move around.

Front End Loaders Otherwise known as FELs, Front End Loaders are skips with a lid which keeps waste dry. These are often used to store cardboard and other dry-mixed recyclables.

Roll On Roll Off Skips (Ro Ro Skips) These are used to store very large quantities of general waste or large waste such as construction scrap.

Recycling bins

Recycling bins come in different types and sizes and are generally used for waste that falls into the following categories:

  • Compost/Food Waste – unused or scrap food, fruit and vegetables, grains and pasta, coffee grounds, tea leaves and compostable disposables

  • Plastic – Clean drinks bottles, food trays, pots and containers and cleaning product bottles

  • Cans / aluminium – Clean drinks cans and food tins

  • Glass – Clean glass bottles and jars

  • Paper – Newspapers, office paper and magazines

  • Cardboard

  • Mixed Recycling – Plastic, cans, glass and paper

Hazardous or clinical waste bins

If your business produces hazardous or clinical waste, you will need to have a separate commercial bin for this and arrange a separate collection. These bins are likely be wheelie bins or FELs and will typically be a different colour to your general waste bin so that you correctly segregate your waste and your waste collector can identify the type of waste immediately.

What material should the bin be made of:

Plastic: lower cost, weather-resistant and durable, easy to clean and lightweight

Stainless steel: strong, can look more aesthetically pleasing in front-facing areas, such as an open kitchen, and fire safe.


Common sizes of bins

  • 25 – 50 Litres

  • 50 – 75 Litres

  • 75 – 100 Litres

  • 100 – 125 Litres

  • 125 Litres +

As always, you can contact our sales team for advice and information about which bins and waste management solutions are best for your needs. Call us on 01726 74264or email


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