The charity making life better by water

FAQs about bins and recycling

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

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
  • Bins that are full
  • Bins that haven't been emptied on time
  • Broken or missing bins
  • Hypodermic needles or other offensive waste
  • Specialist waste such as oil, batteries, paint, and chemical strippers
  • Oil containers
  • Bulky large items such as waste from boat refurbishments
  • Electrical waste
  • Gas canisters
  • Vermin by the bins

What are the general boater bins for?

Our boater bins are for general waste, such non-recyclable packaging. Where there is space, we also provide recycling bins for dry mixed recycling and glass waste.

Unfortunately, we are unable to take the following items:

  • Gas canisters
  • Oil or oil and water mix
  • Empty oil containers
  • Waste from boat refurbishments
  • Vegetation or timber
  • Waste from separator toilets
  • Electrical Waste

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 waste disposal facilities have dedicated recycling bins, we are working on adding additional recycling bins to as many sites as we possibly can, unfortunately with some sites we don't have the room for more bins but, our waste gets sorted by our contractors after collection to reduce the amount that goes to landfill even at sites with no recycling bins.

Our recycling bins are either green or red with a red lid.

Our general waste bins are sorted after collection, with more than 90% of waste diverted from landfill.

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 waste bins at many places along the towpaths, in the majority of places the canal side bins are suitable for both general litter and bagged dog poo waste.

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?

Our waste disposal facilities are serviced by our contractors on a varied frequency, at the busiest sites this is daily and at quieter sites this will be weekly. Our contractors operate on a set schedule and are 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. Around half of our bin sites have recycling bins as well as general waste bins and we are working on increasing the number of recycling bins across the network.

Over 90% of our waste is diverted from landfill.

Our towpath bins are emptied on a varied frequency, in between daily, at the busiest places on the network, and weekly for quieter locations. In some areas the local authority is responsible for emptying these bins.

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 2021/22, 93% of waste from customer sites, our offices and worksites was diverted away from landfill which is split between being recycled (88%) and waste to energy (5%).

Our contractors collected 6,591 tonnes of waste in the financial year 2021/22. The below shows how this waste was disposed of -

  • Sent to Landfill = 445 tonnes (7%)
  • Waste to Energy (energy from incineration) = 316 tonnes (5%)
  • Recycled = 5,830 tonnes (88%)

Last Edited: 31 March 2023

photo of a location on the canals
newsletter logo

Stay connected

Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration