Sunday, 1 December 2013

Hiring a skip

image: freedigitalphotos
A skip is a large, open top container used traditionally by building firms to deposit the debris that they produce. Once full, it is then removed by a purpose built wagon to a landfill site or recycling centre where the contents are deposited. Skips are also often hired for a fixed period of time by private individuals carrying out work on their homes.

Home or garden improvement inevitably produces waste material. To dispose of large amounts of garden matter, rubble, glass, wood or even wallpaper and soft furnishings, you can either make numerous trips down to your local recycling centre, expending unnecessary amounts of time and fuel, or you can hire a skip.

Skips come in various sizes, but the standard ones are mini skip, midi skip and builders' skip. The mini skip holds the equivalent of around 25 full bin bags, the midi skip around 35 bin bags and the builders' skip around 50 bin bags. If in doubt, it is advisable to err on the side of caution and choose the bigger size. Larger builders' skips, such as those you would need for a house clearance, are also available from the better skip hire companies.

You will only need a skip permit if you intend to park it on a public road (as opposed to your driveway, for example). In such cases, the skip hire company will normally apply on your behalf. There are a small number of councils, however, that require the customer to make this application directly.

There are a number of statutory, as well as local, regulations that you need to be aware of when you park a skip on the public highway. The basic rules are that the skip should not exceed five metres in length by two metres in width, it should be guarded by at least three traffic cones and illuminated at all four corners by night. It should not cover any manholes and the name and telephone number of the hire company should always be clearly visible somewhere on the skip.

Certain household wastes are deemed hazardous, and should never be put into a skip. These include refrigeration appliances, televisions, fluorescent light tubes, tyres, vehicle batteries, gas bottles, clinical waste, asbestos, liquids and any flammable or toxic material. It is illegal to overfill your skip.

A good skip hire company should be able to tell you exactly how it intends to process your material and tell you precisely what its recycle rate is. With a normal load, the absolute maximum that should end up in landfill is 20 per cent. The company should hold a valid waste removal licence and, if it processes the waste in its own waste transfer station, an environmental permit.

The final stage of the process sees your waste being separated out into recyclable and non-reusable items. Wood, cardboard, paper, plastics, metals, rubble, soil and glass can all be reprocessed to make new products. Green waste can either be composted or converted into green fuel. Only the bare minimum should actually end up in the ground.