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Bulky Waste: What Facilities Managers Need to Know

2 February 2020

Why Facilities Managers Can’t Ignore the Costs & Compliance Associated with Bulky Waste Removal

Mention ‘waste management’ and the first thing that probably springs to mind is an organisation’s scheduled waste collections, under-desk bins and communal office recycling. An area that is considered with far less frequency, however, is the removal of ad hoc bulky waste – the random stuff that doesn’t fit in the regular wheelie bins, like broken furniture, appliances, fly-tipped junk, and refurbishment and property repairs waste. And that typically makes up a substantial percentage of an organisation’s waste – albeit on an irregular basis.

Today’s facilities managers are responsible for increasingly large property portfolios and ever-more complex FM contracts that may include hundreds of disparate facilities services. In this environment, bulky waste can become an afterthought – a long way removed from the best practice, innovation and compliance requirements that should come with it.

Bulky waste provides facilities managers with all sorts of challenges because it sits outside an organisation’s general waste strategy. While the weekly collection of general waste from standard commercial 1100 litre bins is easy to manage, putting bulky waste in these bins bit by bit is clearly unrealistic. As is this waste being stored on an organisation’s site for long periods of time.

Client organisations and FM service providers, therefore, turn to a range of different solutions. Some dispose of bulky waste by obliging one of their skilled contractors to take it to a disposal facility. But this option is likely to be a very inefficient use of an expensive resource. Better to pay for a builder to build, or a cleaner to clean, than pay them to ferry waste to the local tip.

Hiring skips for the purpose of bulky waste removal is another common solution, but this can prove to be costly, impractical and even unsafe. Skip collection can be infrequent, which means that a large proportion of their contents are often deposited by individuals and organisations other than those paying for it. Meanwhile, in busy urban areas, there is often not enough space for skips and many organisations consider them unsightly. Take a major thoroughfare in a city like London – it would be impossible for commercial businesses in this type of setting to leave a skip by their building for the duration of any extensive refurbishment work. Skips can also be a costly alternative for a smaller amount of bulky waste, and there is often significant confusion about the size of skips needed for a particular project – facilities professionals can end up paying for more space than they actually need.

A popular alternative is to contract a local ‘man and van’ rubbish removal service – which tends to work out around 20% cheaper than hiring the equivalent skip, even before taking into account skip permits and parking suspensions, which for some London boroughs exceed £100 a day. But the risk is that small, independent operators often do not meet the requisite professional and regulatory standards, in addition to having the right accreditations, systems, processes, insurances and financial standing required by multinational FM firms working with major clients. A written record (waste transfer note), for example, must be kept for each waste collection, while anyone moving third-party waste must be licensed by the Environment Agency and properly insured. ‘Transfer’, in this sense, simply means the passing of responsibility for the waste; it does not refer to the transport of waste from A to B. To this end, a second waste transfer note will be produced when the waste removal business deposits its load in a recycling centre or tip. While it is common practice for the party receiving the waste to produce the note, facilities managers should be mindful that both parties must sign the document and keep it for a minimum of two years, and both parties are responsible for making sure all the information in the document is accurate.

One sector that exemplifies the challenges created by bulky waste is social housing. End of tenancies often results in a substantial amount of junk left in the property that needs to be cleared before the new tenant arrives.  Equally, housing providers carry out lots of refurbishment works to bathrooms and kitchens across sizeable estates. This produces a significant amount of bulky waste including old appliances, obsolete sanitary fittings and even the associated packaging. Also, housing estates can be regular targets for fly-tipping both from the tenants themselves and third parties.

Getting compliance wrong can be disastrous. In 2016, a food supplier in the Midlands was fined £25,541 for fly-tipping as a result of using the wrong local man and van to get rid of its bulky waste. More recently, an accountancy firm in Middlesex was fined £36,572 for fly-tipping a variety of waste including bulky waste.

Overall there were 1,602 prosecutions for fly-tipping in England in 2016-17 and 98% of prosecutions resulted in a conviction. Councils also handed out 56,000 fixed penalty notices with a maximum fine of £400 in 2016-17. And this is not just financial and reputational risk. Fly-tipping is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates’ Court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to five years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court.

Within large property portfolios, many of these challenges are magnified, and the facilities managers responsible for these estates must ensure that facilities services run to the same high standard across large geographic areas – in many cases, nationally – but remain mindful of local needs.

It was a combination of these demands that led to the creation of AnyJunk, the UK’s largest bulky waste collection company. Using an online platform, it works with local man and van businesses – all of which are accredited – to ensure facilities professionals can receive a low-cost, fully compliant and nationwide solution for all their bulky waste, including disposal tickets, landfill diversion, waste transfer notes and photos for every collection.

Getting bulky waste collection wrong can have hugely negative repercussions for an organisation’s reputation and balance sheet, particularly as the scope of facilities services gets bigger. Ultimately, facilities managers require peace of mind that costs related to bulky waste do not spiral out of control, the organisation remains complaint and, where necessary, the risk is transferred to a specialist.

Source: Original feature published on i-Fm.net


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