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Speakers corner:
Why is getting rid of rubbish such a chore?

Can ridding your home of unwanted items make you a tidy profit? Or will you have to pay for the privilege?

By Maria McCarthy

I've been trying to get rid of a knackered old armchair recently Given it's saggy-seated state I realised that it might not get snapped up on eBay. But the experience has been so challenging I've felt as though I was attempting to offload weapons-grade plutonium.

My first approach was to local charities – but as it's too old to have a fire certificate they couldn't accept it. And taking it to the local recycling centre myself wasn't an option because it was too large to fit in my car.

Council charges

Then I tried my local council, who said they would charge £32 to take away up to five items of furniture. They wouldn't be able to pick the armchair up from my flat; their insurance doesn't cover entering anyone's premises so I'd have to manhandle it downstairs myself.

Even though it would work out expensive for just one item, I was open to that idea until I heard that their collection days were Tuesday or Thursday and they couldn't tell me in advance which it would be. I didn't think that having an old armchair sitting in the communal garden, possibly for several days would make me very popular with my neighbours, so I declined.

Then I asked a local handyman to take it in his van. But he said there could be a problem at the recycling centre if he turned up in his business van because they might see him as bringing “trade waste” and refuse him entry.

Getting desperate now, I toyed with the idea of taking an axe to the wretched thing and getting rid of one chunk a fortnight in my regular rubbish collection. It seemed absurd that the process was so difficult and I felt sorry for elderly or disabled people who would struggle with this situation far more than me.

As it happens, my story has a happy ending as a friend who is taking an upholstery evening class was delighted to take it off my hands. But other than that, what are the options for getting rid of bulky household rubbish such as old furniture and broken washing machines?

Get online

What you see as rubbish could be valuable to someone else, so try websites like ebay and Gumtree. Offer it for sale initially and see if you can get some money for it.

You can offer goods for free via Gumtree. It can be excellent but some people report problems with timewasters who don't show up.

Your local authority

They don't have a responsibility to collect bulky items, though some of them do anyway. Charges and collection criteria vary so call up and check with your council. Some recycling centres may accept rubbish brought in a handyman's van if you call beforehand and confirm that it belongs to you.

Private waste collectors

There are companies and individuals that will take your bulky rubbish way. Some are established outfits, whilst others fit more into the old “rag and bone man” image. As the value of scrap metal is rising, they'll be especially interested in old white goods. You may be able to get these taken away free of charge. If you use one of these companies it's important to check that they have a “waste carriers licence” and that you are given a “waste transfer note” to prove that you've disposed of your waste responsibly and not given it to someone who's going to fly-tip.


If you're buying a new fridge or washing machine many retailers will offer to take away the old one, often free of charge. staff writer


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