We’ve been doing some work in our front garden recently. Part of that involved me digging up the top 5cm or so of the stony horrible existing soil.
All in all, around a tonne of stones and soil got bagged up and had been sitting in our front garden for a couple of months. We’ve kept four sacks for use in the back garden which left 21 sacks and around 800kg to dispose of.
I enquired at our local
tipreuse and recycling centre, Space Waye, who informed me that
“waste from home improvements/renovations is classed as industrial waste and is liable for charging.”
Apparently soil from your own garden is also classed as the result of an improvement and is therefore industrial waste, the disposal of which is charged at £195 per tonne. If I were to dispose of the soil and stones at the council facility I would need to transport it there and pay in the region of £156.
Looking for alternatives, I came across HIPPOBAG. The business model is quite simple:
- You pick which size of bag you require.
- They post it to you (or you can buy it at a few different DIY stores).
- You fill it.
- You book a collection.
- They come and take it away, which they aim to do within 5 working days.
- They recycle over 90% of the waste they collect.
Their “MEGABAG” at 180cm long × 90cm wide × 70cm tall and with a maximum weight of 1.5 tonnes seemed the most appropriate, and cost £94.99 — a saving of £61 over the council’s offering, and no need to transport it anywhere ourselves.
The bag turned up in the post the next day, at which point I discovered a discrepancy in the instructions.
The filling instructions on the documentation attached to the bag stated that it should only be filled two thirds with soil, and levelled out. Neither the Frequently Asked Questions page nor the How To Use A Hippobag page say anything about this, and all pictures on the site show the bags filled right up, so I was completely unaware of any such restriction.
Now, I “only” had 800kg of soil but that was some 21 sacks which when placed in the bag did fill it past the top level. I don’t see how you could use the maximum capacity of 1.5t and only fill it two thirds. I was really worried that they weren’t going to carry out the collection.
With the awkward shape of the rubble sacks they weren’t packing that well into the bag. There was a lot of wasted space between them. In the interests of packing down the soil more level we decided to split open many of the sacks so the soil and stones would spread out more evenly.
I had some misgivings about this because if Hippobag decided there was too much to collect and if it were all still in sacks, at least I might have had the option of removing some of the sacks and not entirely waste my money. On the other hand it did look like it would pack down a lot further.
What we were left with was a bag about half to two thirds full of soil and stones with three or four more sacks of it plonked in the middle, no higher than the lip of the bag.
On the evening of Monday 12th I booked a collection. I was expecting to be able to choose a preferred day, but it seems the only option is “as soon as possible”, and
we aim to collect your HIPPOBAG at any time within 5 working days of your booking
So, by Monday 19th then?
I wrote in the “comments to the driver” section that I would definitely be in so they should ring the bell (they don’t need you to be at home to do a collection). I wanted to check everything was okay and ask them about the filling instructions.
The afternoon of Monday 19th came and still no collection. I filled in the contact form on their web site to enquire when it might take place.
At some point on Tuesday 20th May I looked out of our front window and the bag had gone. I hadn’t heard them make the collection and they didn’t ring the bell. It must have happened when I was out in the back garden. They shoved a collection note through our door. My comments to the driver were printed on the bottom, so they must have seen them.
I still haven’t received a response to my enquiry. They did actually reply to my enquiry on the afternoon of Tuesday 20th. I’d missed that at the time this was written.
Not a big deal since they did perform the collection without issue and only a day later than expected.
Really I still think that council refuse sites should be more open to taking waste like this at no charge, or a lot cheaper than ~£156, if you can prove it is your own domestic waste.
I understand that the council has a limited budget and everyone in the borough would be paying for services that not everyone uses, but I also think there would be far fewer incidents of fly tipping — which the council have to clean up at huge expense to the tax payer.
Compared to having to transport 21 sacks of soil to Space Waye and then pay £156 to have them accept it though, using HIPPOBAG was a lot more convenient and £61 cheaper. It’s a shame about the unclear instructions
and slow (so far no) response to enquiries, but we would most likely use them again.