While the advent of wheelie bins has meant households now have larger capacity bins, old fashioned dustbins used to be lined with black plastic rubbish bags. The bags screened the inside of the bin from contact with refuse. Today’s wheelie bins are unlined. They are picked up and upturned to empty them, leaving residues of unpleasant and potentially noxious waste clinging to the sides.
Significance - Used for varied types of domestic and commercial waste, wheelie bins become soiled with sticky or rotting materials. Even where waste is bagged first, bags tear easily and contents leak. The problem is reduced where households compost biodegradable kitchen waste, but most wheelie bins still contain some unsavoury contents. Where councils provide separate wheelie bins for organic waste, these green bins are especially prone to soiling. Odour becomes a problem. Rotting residues attract pests from ants to rats and are breeding grounds for germs, including salmonella and E.coli. Rats and other vermin may carry other diseases. In wheelie bins at commercial food outlets these problems are magnified. Uncleaned bins may be a health hazard to staff and the public.
Types - There are two main options for wheelie bin cleaning: hose or pressure wash your own bin when it begins to smell, or employ a contractor. Choosing to clean your own bin poses a problem regarding the disposal of contaminated washing water. It is illegal to let this run off into drains and watercourses. There are now numerous firms across the UK offering a wheelie bin cleaning service. Wheelie bin cleaning franchises are available for purchase.
Accreditation - People wishing to set up in business as wheelie bin cleaners may join the National Association of Wheeled Bin Washers (NAWBW). This association was established to set industry standards for environmental legislation compliance and to discourage "cowboy" operators. Reputable washers should also be registered with the local water authority, the local council and the Environment Agency. Some are recognised by the Green Organisation.
Benefits - Employing a bin cleaning service saves householders or employees an unpleasant task, that is also somewhat difficult due to the depth of the bin. Members of the NAWBW use only environmentally friendly, biodegradable products, and take away the contaminated water to dispose of it carefully and legally. While hosing out a bin at home uses a large volume of water, mobile cleaning units filter and recycle water, reducing the volume used.
Features - Cleaning is done on collection day. Most professional firms recommend cleaning once every four weeks. In 2011 the cost was between £2 and £4 per wash. The bins are lifted into specialised vans or trailers containing a cleaning unit. The cleaning unit stores and recycles the same water all day, before emptying into an approved waste water disposal point. The service includes pressure washing, disinfecting and deodorising. The bin is washed inside and out, including the lid and wheels. At food outlets, schools, hospitals and other commercial premises, professional bin cleaning should include cleaning the area around and under the bins.