Bin stuffers: The new crime that’s sweeping Britain

Red tape wrapping its way around the environment leads to fines and fly-tipping

Who’s watching your rubbish bins? That’s the question that’s being asked as phantom bin stuffers are avoiding tip fees and council fines by stuffing their rubbish into other people’s bins.

It’s an anti-social behaviour that many in the recycling industry warned would happen as extra red tape makes it cheaper for rogue traders and lazy householders to dump their rubbish onto other people, says a national waste management company.

Recent cases of criminal activity meeting official lack of common sense have resulted in residential bins not being emptied because bin lids are open less than an inch, and companies unlocking their premises in the morning to find their bins filled to the brim with another company’s rubbish, the Business Waste company says.

“The phantom bin stuffers are out there, just as everybody predicted,” says Waste Management Director Mark Hall, “They’re the same as fly-tippers – heaping their waste on others because they’re too lazy or too tight-fisted to deal with it themselves.”

Red tape out of control

In a recent incident, one resident of Gloucester found that local contractors had not emptied his domestic bin because the lid was open by less than an inch, after a phantom bin stuffer had filled his wheelie bin to the brim overnight.

“It’s this kind of mindless red tape brought in with the best of intentions, that is infuriating for the victims,” says Hall. “And when councils start handing out on-the-spot fines for over-filled bins or the wrong kind of recycling, it’s only going to get worse.”

“‘Closed lid’ policies that encourage people to recycle more sound great in a council meeting room, but in practice it reeks of bureaucrats not understanding the real world,” he continued. “Council policy is often geared to punishing people for full bins, rather than help them cut down on their waste.” offers a few solutions for people who find their bins filling up too fast, some of which may not be entirely practical:

• NO: Jump up and down on your rubbish – Comes with obvious health and safety dangers
• NO: More bins – But what if you’ve already got four and no space?
• NO: Guard dogs, or all-night bin-watching vigils
• YES: Pressure your council for more recycling points and better tip facilities
• YES: Recycle more, reduce waste, and try to buy items with less packaging

Unfortunately, many people don’t see bin stuffing as anti-social behaviour, much less a crime. Business Waste spoke to some residents who saw no problem with using other people’s bins once theirs are filled to the brim.

“It all goes to the same place, so what’s the problem?” one person said.

“We had too much rubbish the week after Christmas and a week to wait for the bin men. So lucky for me there was a builder’s skip down the road,” said another.

Commercial sector losing thousands in waste crime

But it’s in the commercial sector that the worst damage is being done. With commercial waste being subject to the landfill tax, and with sensitive or dangerous waste having their own processing costs, fly-tipping has always been a problem.

Rogue traders are always looking for less than legal ways to cut their overheads on waste management, leading to a plague of bin stuffing up and down the country. say they’ve heard of dozens of cases of companies finding their bins stuffed with other traders’ waste, and in some cases they’ve found dangerous materials such as asbestos and waste chemicals.

“It’s pure criminality,” says Hall, “And it’s costing British industry millions of pounds every year to clear up.”

The problem has become so widespread that companies are installing CCTV systems to guard their bins. “It’s partially to stop valuable metal waste from being stolen,” Ratcliffe says, “but now it’s also to catch people trying to put rubbish into the bins.” says people have enough to worry about without criminals and lazy neighbours causing them inconvenience and expense through their fly-tipping.

“But with better waste policies and a crackdown on the criminals, we can make this a thing of the past,” says Hall.

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