FAQs about bins and recycling

Find answers to your questions about bins and recycling along our canals and rivers.

Waste and recycling improvements Waste and recycling improvements

What should I do if there is a problem with the bins?

Please call 0303 040 4040 or fill in our online form.

Let us know if you find:

  • Litter or fly tipping on the bin compound floor
  • Bins that are full
  • Bins that haven’t been emptied on time
  • Hypodermic needles or other offensive waste
  • Specialist waste such as oil, batteries, paint and chemical strippers
  • Vermin by the bins

What are the general boater bins for?

Our boater bins are for general domestic waste, such as food waste and non-recyclable packaging. Where there is space, we also provide a recycling bin option.

Unfortunately we are unable to take the following items: gas containers, oil or oil and water mix, old empty oil containers, waste from boat refurbishments, vegetation or timber, and waste from separator toilets. Leaving these items here considerably increases costs to the Trust, so please take them to your nearest local dedicated council site or tip.

What are the towpath bins for?

The towpath bins are for small pieces of everyday litter, such as crisp packets and sandwich wrapping. Most towpath bins are also suitable for disposing of bagged dog poo.

Towpath bins are not suitable for general domestic waste, which should be disposed of in council-collected household bins or at our boater bin facilities.

Where can I recycle?

About half of our boater bin facilities have dedicated recycling bins, we’d like to provide more but at many sites there just isn’t space. These may be green bins or may be red bins with a red lid. Our contractor is in the process of changing all the red recycling bins to green bins, to make them more easily identifiable and in the coming months we’ll be also be updating signage.

Our general waste bins are also sorted after collection, with more than 90% of waste from our customer sites and from Canal & River Trust offices and worksites diverted from landfill and recycled.

Where can I dispose of old oil and batteries?

Currently, we don’t have any facilities for you to dispose of used oil, bilge waste, or batteries. Please take your oil waste or batteries to your nearest dedicated council site but please do check in advance as rules differ from area to area. It may also be worth looking at local scrap yards (who may pay for old car batteries), skip hire and licensed waste disposal merchants. Whichever route a boater takes, it’s important that this type of waste is disposed of responsibly to prevent disruption to our normal collection service as well as environmental damage.

What should I do about dog poo by the waterways?

Canals are a great place to walk a dog, but you must clean up your pet's waste. Dog poo left on the towpath is unpleasant and can be a health hazard. You'll find dog waste bins at many places along the towpaths. You can also dispose of dog poo in general litter bins.

What do you do about vermin by the bins?

Our environmental team will investigate reports of vermin by the bins. Wherever possible we try not to bait sites and instead prefer to resolve the root cause. Rodents are attracted to loose food that is not put securely in bins and leaf litter makes a suitable environment for a rats’ nest so the site may just need tidying, and we’ll only use poison as a last resort.  

Can you tell me some more about your waste and recycling services?

We have 255 boater bin facilities serviced by our contractors (and more looked after by local teams) and 877 dog poo and towpath bins across our waterways in England and Wales.

Our towpath bins are emptied on a varied frequency, in between daily, at the busiest places on the network, and weekly for quieter locations. Our contractor Fountains carries out 80,355 bin empties a year. In some areas the local authority is responsible for emptying the bins.

Our main waste contract is with Biffa, who look after around 250 sites, covering both general and recycling bins. Biffa operates on a set schedule and is responsible for standard bin emptying: operatives are not authorised to clear fly-tipped or hazardous waste, or for moving rubbish if the bins are inaccessible. In 2020/21, Biffa emptied our boater bins 25,412 times (which equates to 61,360 individual bin lifts), removed 3,781 tonnes of rubbish and recycling, and completed 98% of its scheduled bin empties.

In 2021 we renewed our contract with Biffa and additionally contracted Reconomy to tackle some trickier sites and situations. Reconomy works as a waste broker and can act quickly at a local level to resolve issues such as where access to the bins is blocked by fly-tipping or excess rubbish, or where bins or sites are contaminated with offensive, inappropriate or hazardous waste.

What do I do with waste from my composting/separator toilet?

If you have a separator/compost toilet on your boat and have been putting bagged and binned waste in our waste bins, you need to find an alternative way to dispose of this waste. From the end of December 2021 we request that no bagged solid waste from separator/compost toilets is disposed of in Canal & River Trust waste bins. We will continue to work with boaters, such as we have in London, and others to identify a sustainable solution for the disposal of this waste.

How much waste do you manage to save from landfill?

We are increasing the amount of waste that is recycled every year. In 2020/21, 87% of waste from customer sites, our offices and worksites was diverted away from landfill and recycled.

  • Landfill = 697 tonnes
  • Waste to Energy (energy derived from incineration) = 469 tonnes
  • Recycled = 4,198 tonnes

Total = 5,364 tonnes

Last date edited: 28 September 2021