The charity making life better by water

This is a rubbish blog!

The Trust faces all sorts of trials and tribulations in dealing with tonnes of boaters’ plastics, litter, and other rubbish each year. Here's how you can help make it better

Overflowing boaters rubbish facilities in London

With hundreds of waste disposal facilities across the country, in 2021/22 we spent over £1.4m disposing of 6,591 tonnes of waste emptying the bins, skips and dealing with litter, fly-tipping and hazardous waste.

Our dirty dozen

Unsurprisingly, five of the busiest and most expensive boaters refuse facilities are in our London & South East Region with Stonebridge lock topping the list of our dirty dozen bins sites which disposed of over 132t of waste in this period.

  1. Stonebridge Lock (London & South East)
  2. Great Haywood (West Midlands)
  3. Little Venice (London & South East)
  4. Wolvercote (London & South East)
  5. Chess Basin (London & South East)
  6. Cow Roast Lock (London & South East)
  7. Frome Road (Wales & South West)
  8. Dundas Wharf (Wales & South West)
  9. Fradley Junction (West Midlands)
  10. Stanley Ferry (Yorkshire & North East)
  11. Cosgrove (East Midlands)
  12. Pewsey Wharf (Wales & South West)

The menace of fly-tipping

In 2021/22 we spent £117k clearing fly tipped waste from our bin compounds, towpaths, locks, bridges, reservoirs & embankments.

Fly tipping

Fly tipping can also cause disruption to the regular bin services, if our contractors are unable to get to the bins due to fly tipped waste blocking access then these non-collections can quickly result in huge mounds of rubbish accumulating attracting pests such as rats. If you see someone dumping something inappropriate, hazardous or otherwise misusing the facilities, please report it to 03030 404040 or contact us.

Their selfish actions threaten the facilities all boaters depend upon while cruising the waterways, as well as posing a potential threat to wildlife and the environment.

Reduce, reuse and recycle

Over half of our waste disposal facilities have recycling bins alongside general waste bins. By separating recycling from general waste, we avoid paying landfill tax and this helps save us money if people use the facilities responsibly. If someone puts a bag of general mixed waste in a recycling bin, the whole bin will be treated by our contractors as mixed waste and the tax will be charged on the whole load, so it's very important to put the right thing in the right bin. Our recycling bins are either green or red with red lids.

Recycling bins

Fusion collections

At some of our sites our contractors use the same bin lorry to collect all the different waste types at the same time, these services are known as fusion collections, even though all the waste goes into one lorry the waste is taken to a recycling plant where the waste is sorted. This type of service only happens at a small number of our sites where our contractors are unable to collect the bins separately, with these collections the waste is still sorted to ensure as little as possible goes to landfill, it is also cheaper to service recycling bins so having recycling bins as well as general waste bins at sites with fusions collections saves us money and by having recycling bins, we also improve our recycling at source rates.

To find a recycling point near you use our online maps or download one of the many recycling apps to your smart phone or tablet. To find out more about our boaters' recycling facilities and how to use our services map please visit our website rubbish and recycling pages.

You can also try and reduce your waste to a minimum by careful shopping, reducing, reusing and recycling where possible. There are many exponents of a zero-waste lifestyle out there and a quick internet search reveals many handy hints and tips that are helpful to boaters.

Please do:

  • Sort your waste, bag it and put it in the correct bin
  • Reduce your waste, reuse and recycle as much as possible

Please don't:

  • Dump your old boat batteries
  • Dump electrical items such as televisions, fridge's, microwaves
  • Dispose of oil or oil and water mix
  • Dispose of oil containers
  • Dump your domestic rubbish in litter bins
  • Dump gas canisters or fuel containers
  • Dump waste from boat refurbishments
  • Dispose of timber of vegetation in the bins
  • Dispose of waste from separator toilets

It's in everyone's interest to use our rubbish facilities correctly to reduce the costs of maintaining these facilities. The more money spent on plastic pollution and rubbish, the less money there is for other activities like dredging and providing other facilities for boaters.

There are a growing number of recycling points, but you can find all our waste facilities by zooming into your location using our waterway maps - look for the red dustbin icon

Do your bit and get involved

Boaters can also do their bit to help reduce the burden of plastics and litter on our waterways from joining Towpath Taskforce or just reducing, reusing and recycling responsibly.

Thank you in advance for taking our #PlasticsChallenge and helping us keep the waterways clean for everyone.


Take our Plastics Challenge

Discover what you can do on your doorstep to tackle the global plastics crisis

Last Edited: 14 September 2022

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