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The incredible bulk

In some London boroughs arranging for the Council to collect an item of bulky waste can be expensive. Not only can it cost a pretty penny, but the cost can rise depending on the number of collections you require, which can also be limited.

In Waltham Forest the Council offers a free bulky waste collection service, allowing residents to arrange for up to five items to be collected every visit. And the service can be used every week of the year if necessary.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Waltham Forest Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, explains, “We want to do everything we can to make sure residents can dispose of their waste easily and responsibly and in turn we can seek to reuse or recycle as much bulky waste as possible.

“Over the last four years we have been waging a war on enviro-crimes such as littering and flytipping and have managed to drive the latter down by 32 per cent. Partly this is through rigorous enforcement action, but we recognise it is also important to do what we can to remove any reason to want to flytip.”

By offering their residents a free bulky waste collection service, the Council has given its residents every opportunity to dispose of unwanted bulky items through a simple phone call.

Over the course of a year the Council’s contractors will collect over 25,000 items. “It’s a lot of stuff,” said Cllr Loakes, “Which is why we have upped our game and now recycle a quarter of all the bulky waste items we collect. We also work with ReStore, a social enterprise that reuse items that others can still benefit from.”

When a resident phones the Council to arrange a collection they are asked if the item might be of use to someone in need, and if so the charity picks it up rather than the Council’s waste contractors.

Armchairs, beds, tables, vases, wardrobes, rugs and even pots, pans and cutlery sets can be given a new home via ReStore. In addition the Council will collect bicycles, carpets, suitcases, boilers, white goods, exercise equipment, televisions and much more besides. Yes, even your unwanted kitchen sink!

One of the bulky waste items that are most problematic for the Council is mattresses. Last year the Council collected over 12,500 of them and because of the range of components used to make them, they are very difficult to recycle.

Cllr Loakes has been at the forefront of a campaign to call on the Government to do more about the problem, writing to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to outline what he would like to see done.

“The problem is partly down to the private rented sector where the high turnover of tenants in short-term lets leads to a high turnover of cheap mattresses,” Cllr Loakes explained.

“I would like local councils to be able to levy an annual charge against those companies undertaking a commercial letting agent function in our borough. This would allow them to pick up some of the cost of disposal, similar to the levies allowed to pay for policing and cleaning up for late night licensing.

“I also believe that DEFRA should look to ban mattresses from landfill – helping to stimulate further commercial interest in recycling – and that they should introduce a compulsory take-back scheme to ensure the producer takes responsibility for the end use of mattresses, as has been done successfully on other products.”

Bulky waste collections are organised on an area basis and can take place up to 10pm Monday to Friday. To request a collection phone 020 8496 3000 or email For more information visit

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