Waste management guidelines



1.0    This Document

This document provides architects, developers, landlords and managing agents with guidance and information about Reading Borough Council’s requirements for the management of waste in developments.

It encourages developers to consider waste management and minimisation at the design concept stage. This will ensure that the correct capacity and type of waste bins are located in the right place in new residential property developments, conversions of offices to flats under permitted development rights, commercial and mixed-use units in the Borough.

Individual houses, HMOs

This section of the guidance should be followed for houses which have a front garden or yard, where each property will have individual waste storage provision.

2.0   Collection Services Overview

Reading Borough Council provides an alternate weekly collection of general waste and recycling. One week recycling is collected and on the alternate week general waste is collected.

Find out more about our commercial waste collection service

In February 2021 a new weekly food waste scheme was also introduced across the Borough. All new properties will include a weekly food waste scheme.

The preferred method of waste collection is from wheeled bins that are presented for collection at the kerbside. For residual waste collections, Reading Borough Council will collect one bin per property to encourage residents to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste.  In addition, no side waste will be collected.

The following materials are collected for recycling:

  • Mixed paper and card
  • Plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays
  • Food and drink cartons
  • Food tins and drink cans
  • Foil and foil trays
  • Empty Aerosols

The recycled materials are co-mingled, which means they can all be placed in the same bin without any need for further segregation.  They are then taken to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where they are sorted. 

Reading Borough Council does offer a garden waste collection, which is on a subscription basis, where we collect green bins and reusable bags from households.

Special Bulky Household Waste Collections

There are some types of waste which Reading Borough Council will collect from households by special arrangement for a charge.

If residents have an item in good condition that can be reused, they can donate it to someone who could re-use it, either by using a group such as Freecycle Reading or Freegle Reading or donating it to charity (many of which will collect from your property).

If the items cannot be reused and are too big for the grey bins (e.g. old furniture, appliances, prams/pushchairs, exercise bikes) – The residents can either be taken to the Household Waste and Recycling Centre, Island road, Reading, or pay Reading Borough Council to collect it. Further information on Special Collections.

Clinical Waste

Residents can put general hygiene waste (incontinence pads, catheter and stoma bags, bed pan contents and liners etc.) into their general waste bin.

If the resident is being treated by a healthcare professional in their own home, the healthcare professional should take the waste away with them.

If the resident is self-treating a medical condition and has healthcare/clinical waste which could potentially carry an infection (e.g. needles, syringes or other sharp instruments, any waste which includes blood or body fluids, human tissue, swabs or dressings, drugs or other pharmaceutical products), Reading Borough Council can collect this free of charge. The resident will need a referral from their hospital, doctor, and district nurse or health visitor. Anything that cannot be taken on our kerbside collections can be taken to the Household Waste and Recycling Centre in South Reading.

Glass can be recycled at various bring sites around the borough. Reading Borough Council does encourage developers of larger residential sites to incorporate an area for either underground or above ground glass recycling, tetra Pak (cartons) silver foil and various charity banks. These can be arranged with our waste contractor FCC Environment via the Re3 partnership on 0800 988 3023.

2.1   Internal Storage

To enable and encourage occupants of new residential units to recycle their waste, developers should provide adequate internal storage, usually within the kitchen, for the segregation of recyclable materials from other waste.

2.2   External Storage – Capacity 

Developers should ensure that there is sufficient and appropriate space within the front garden or yard for the necessary wheelie bins. 

For houses, it is recommended that space is allocated for at least 3 x 140-litre bins. The dimensions of all standard bin sizes are included in Appendix A. Reading Borough Council can supply these bins. If there is a large amount of bins required for the development, please be advised that there is an approximate 7-week turnaround from order date. If bins are to be purchased from another source, then we require that they are the colours specified in Appendix A.

Where a street-level property is being subdivided into flats, please contact Reading Borough Council first to discuss whether it is appropriate to allow for each dwelling to have its own refuse and recycling bins, or to move the property onto a communal waste storage system using larger wheelie bins or Eurobins.

It shall be the responsibility of the developer, managing agent or landlord to purchase the necessary bins for external waste storage, and ensure that these are in place before residents move into new properties. 

2.3   External Storage – Design Features

The design of the front garden or yard should enable the bins to be stored in a shaded position away from windows.  The bins must not intrude onto the street and must be contained within an appropriate front wall, fence or hedge, or alternatively, within a dedicated and suitably designed structure within the boundary of the premises.  Bin storage areas should be located in a suitable area to minimise nuisance to adjoining properties.

Purpose-Built Flats

This section provides information and guidance on waste storage and collection requirements for purpose-built blocks of flats, where residents share communal waste facilities. The guidance given in this section on the design, size and location of bin stores will be applicable for other types of facility as well, including commercial units and housing developments without individual bins.

Architects and developers should be aware that Reading Borough Council does not offer a compacted waste collection service.  At sites where compaction is used, waste collection and disposal will need to be arranged and paid for through a private contractor that is able to offer an appropriate service.

3.0   Collection Services Overview

There is no difference between individual properties collection service and the collection service for flats; Reading Borough Council provides a fortnightly collection for both general waste and recycling, on alternate weeks. Please note for larger developments the collections may not be collected on the same day each week.

3.1   Internal Storage

To enable and encourage occupants of new residential units to recycle their waste, developers should provide adequate internal storage, usually within the kitchen. This is for the separation of recyclable materials from other waste.

3.2 External Storage – Capacity & Bins

Reading Borough Council will undertake one fortnightly collection of general waste, and one fortnightly collection of recycling. The correct capacity for waste storage for developments can be found in Appendix A.

If the development is for Student accommodation, please contact the Reading Borough Council for advice.

It is the responsibility of the developer to purchase the necessary bins for external waste storage, and to ensure that these are in place before residents move into new properties.

If the developer wishes to purchase their own bins from another source, we insist that the colours Grey for general waste and Green for Recycling are adhered to and that the sizes are those specified in Appendix A.

The Council reserves the right to refuse to empty bins that do not meet the required standards if there is a risk of damage to the collection vehicles or to the safety of the collection staff.

3.3   External Storage – Location

For purpose-built flats it is necessary to provide an appropriate storage area for refuse and recycling containers.  These must be an integral part of any new development, with appropriate design, capacity, layout, access and signage.  Communal bin storage areas should be clearly identified on plans, and the space allocated to them must be guaranteed for the purposes of waste storage. Communal bin storage areas must be located within the footprint of the development, and ideally be at ground level.  However, if an underground storage solution is planned for standard wheeled bins (such as in a basement car park) then an appropriate collection point for the containers at ground level must be provided and clearly shown on the plans.

Bin storage areas should be easily accessible and conveniently located for the dwellings that they serve. Residents should not be required to walk further than 30m from their front door (excluding vertical distances) when carrying refuse and recycling.  For larger developments it may be necessary to provide several bin storage areas to ensure an adequate distribution across the site.  The location of communal bin storage areas should have regard to the impact of noise and smell on the occupants of neighbouring properties, both existing and proposed.

3.4   External Storage – Dimensions

The size and layout of each bin storage area must be designed to accommodate the correct quantity of refuse and recycling bins for the number of dwellings that the storage area is likely to serve.  Where more than one bin storage area is being provided, consideration should be given to the likely usage of each storage area so that they are sized appropriately.  Developers should take into account the preference of some residents to deposit waste as part of their daily commute, which may mean they use a bin store they walk past on their way out, rather than the one closest to their home. For blocks of flats divided into cores, the size of the bin storage areas must correspond to the number of dwellings accessed through each entrance.

Bin storage areas must comply with the following:

  • All bins must be fully accessible from the front face, to allow for easy depositing of waste. 
  • Layouts that require bins to be swapped round mid-week are permissible if it is demonstrated that there will be on-site management presence at the development. 
  • There must be a minimum of 150mm clearance around and between each bin within a storage area. 
  • Where there is more than one bin within a storage area, there must be 2m clearance in front of each bin to enable it to be accessed and safely moved without needing to move any of the other containers.
  • All doors and alleys must be at least 2m wide to allow for safe manoeuvring of bins.
  • The minimum internal height for a bin storage area and any access doorways is 2m. 
  • To allow the lids to be opened fully, there should be no other internal fixtures or fittings that reduce the clearance above the bins. 

3.5   External Storage – Design Features

  • Bin storage areas should be contained within a suitable enclosure to prevent nuisance from the spread of waste, odour or noise. 
  • The walls/roof should be constructed of materials that are non-combustible, impervious, easy to keep clean, and able to withstand impacts from fully-loaded Eurobins being moved. 
  • It is also recommended that any switches, plugs or other similar installations are placed above or well below the height of the rim of the bins.
  • The enclosures must be suitably designed to prevent entry by vermin.
  • Where a roof is being placed over the bin storage area or it is located indoors, the enclosed space must be well ventilated. 
  • There should be adequate lighting in the bin storage area. 
  • Doors must not open outward over a public footway or road, and should not cause an obstruction to other access when in an open position.  They should be able to remain or be secured in the open position so that access for collection staff is unimpeded when the bins are being emptied.
  • The thresholds of any doors or gates must be free of rims or impediments at floor level
  • There must be a water supply with standard tap fittings available to the bin storage area to enable washing down of the bins, walls and floor. 
  • Bin storage areas must have a suitable impermeable hard standing ground covering which can be cleaned easily.  The slope of the floor must enable it to drain properly and completely.  The drainage system must be suitable for receiving a polluted effluent.  Any gullies must not be in the track of the container wheels. 
  • The design of bin storage areas should pay as much regard as possible to accessibility for disabled or elderly residents.  Where the bin storage areas cannot be designed to meet the requirements of these residents, suitable alternative arrangements should be put in place by the site managers to support any tenants who are unable to use the external waste storage facilities provided.
  • Storage areas for refuse, recycling and food waste bins should be clearly identifiable as such, through the use of appropriate signage on doors or walls. Reading Borough Council should be consulted in the design of any signage to ensure information is accurate, consistent and presented appropriately.
  • The space in the collection area must be sufficient to enable operatives to return emptied bins to a position that does not obstruct the manoeuvring of those containers that are yet to be emptied.  A simple example of how this might be achieved is given below: 
  1. Filled bins set out for collection, with space left for emptied containers to be returned
  2. Collection operation begins, with containers wheeled to vehicle, emptied and then returned to space available
  3. All containers emptied, and ready to be returned to storage area

3.6   External Storage – Access and Pulling Distances

Bin storage areas must comply with the following;

  • The bin storage areas must be located at a point where the collection vehicle can safely stop for loading. 
  • The stopping point for the vehicle should be safe, legal and designed to minimise any obstruction to traffic.  Please note the Reading Borough Council vehicle dimensions and specifications given in Appendix B.
  • The maximum distances that operatives should be required to wheel containers, measured from the furthest point within the storage/collection area to the loading position at the back of the vehicle are:
    • 15m for any 2 wheeled containers up to 360-litres
    • 10m for any 4 wheeled containers  
  • The surfacing of the route the operatives will take between the bin storage/collection area and the vehicle should have a hard, smooth and continuous finish. 
  • The pathway must be free of any steps, ironworks, trees, drainage gullies or other features which would obstruct or impede the movement of the bins.
  • If access to a roadway is required along the route then a dropped kerb must be provided as close as possible to the storage area.
  • Slopes should be avoided wherever possible along the pathway. Where needed the gradient should fall away from the bin storage area and should be no greater than 1:12.  It is not acceptable for the route between the storage area and the collection vehicle (i.e. in the direction that filled bins will be pulled) to have any uphill gradients.
  • Signage and, if appropriate, road/pavement markings should be used to indicate that the storage areas are not to be blocked at any time.
  • If locks are to be fitted to any doors or gates at bin storage areas, these should be of a standard ‘Fire Brigade’ pattern.  If a keypad and code is to be used for gaining access, then developers and site managers should be aware that the code will be shared with a number of collection staff. All arrangements must be agreed with Reading Borough Council prior to installation. 

3.7   Designated Collection Points

In locations where it is not practicable for architects to provide full access to the bin storage areas a separate designated collection point must be provided.

It is the responsibility of the site managers or residents to move the waste containers to the designated collection point prior to collection, and then to return the containers to their storage areas after emptying.

To minimise the potential for delays to collections, the designated collection area should be large enough for all the refuse and recycling bins to be positioned ready for collection at the same time.  

Developers and site managers must make sufficient provision to prevent other vehicles parking in the collection area, or in a position that would impede access for collection operatives.

Adequate arrangements must be provided for the collection vehicle to remain at its loading point for an extended period, particularly where a significant number of bins are to be emptied at the same time.  Site managers should ensure that no other access is required to or through the designated collection point on the scheduled day of collection.

In positioning and designing the collection point, architects must ensure that the distance that operatives will need to wheel bins from the furthest point within this area to reach the loading point at the back of the collection vehicle does not exceed 10m.

Developers should ensure that they adhere to the other relevant access requirements for waste collection detailed in section 3.6. In particular, dropped kerbs must be provided beside the designated collection point if they are not level with the roadway.

Developers will need to give consideration as to how residents can dispose of their waste when the bins have been moved to the collection point.  If the refuse bins have been moved at a separate time to the recycling bins, there must be adequate arrangements in place at all waste storage areas to ensure that residents attempting to deposit non-recyclable refuse have the opportunity to do so without contaminating a recycling container.

Commercial & Mixed-Use Developments

This section provides information on the specific requirements for developments that include commercial units.  The information given in this section should be read in conjunction with Section 3, and treated as additional to those requirements which are set out in that section in relation to capacity, storage and access.

4.0   Commercial Waste  

Arrangements for commercial waste are different as businesses do not receive a waste collection service through their Business Rates.  The Council does offer a commercial waste collection service, with a range of container options and collection frequencies to suit all types of premises.  Businesses can also choose to take out a contract with a fully licensed private waste collection firm.

4.1    Design of Waste Storage Facilities

All developments should provide sufficient storage capacity for all waste arising, whether commercial or residential in origin.

The design and layout of bin storage areas will be consistent with that for purpose-built flats. Architects should follow the guidance given in Section 3.

4.2   Segregation of Commercial and Household Waste

External storage areas for waste on mixed-use developments must be segregated, so that household and commercial waste bins are in separate, secured bin storage areas.

Access to the domestic bins should only be possible for residents and site management.  It is also good practice to secure the commercial bin storage area to prevent residents from disposing household waste.

Large-Scale Developments

5.0   Large-Scale developments

The generation of waste from new large-scale developments of over 100 units could have a significant impact on the local environment, and will place an additional burden on the existing collection, treatment and disposal infrastructure in the Borough of Reading.  The requirement for adequate waste storage space and suitable access routes for collection vehicles will also reduce the flexibility that architects have in making the best use of the land available.

Reading Borough Council will expect to see a detailed strategy/plan for all new development sites, setting out how it is proposed to manage household and/or commercial waste being generated across the entirety of the development, in accordance with the guidelines in this document.

For larger developments, and particularly those comprising buildings of several storeys, the production of this waste management plan is likely to emphasise the scale of the problem that architects will face in providing enough on-site storage capacity for a large number of dwellings.  The requirements for this provision will put additional pressure on land set aside for car parking, could potentially reduce the scope for co-locating an optimal number of income-generating commercial units, and may also have an impact on the size and attractiveness of any proposed communal garden spaces.

The generation of waste from new large developments will represent a significant addition to the total municipal waste arising within Reading.  The Council’s existing collection infrastructure is already operating at near full capacity, and investment in the purchase and operation of new vehicles may therefore be required in order to service new large developments.  Reading Borough Council may seek a financial contribution from developers to cover these costs where appropriate.

Many of the problems associated with waste collection and storage for large developments can be negated through the use of alternative on-site technologies to treat waste generated by the occupants.  The use of such technologies can significantly reduce the need to allocate as much space for waste storage, minimise the noise and disruption caused when waste collections are undertaken, and can help new developments to achieve a higher environmental performance standard.

5.1  Bring Banks

With larger developments of over 100 units and where there are likely to be a mix of blocks of flats, residential housing and/ or retail areas, we would ask that developers are required to install an area where bring banks can be situated for the collection of glass, textiles and other materials.

Changes of Waste Collection Service – starting Autumn 2020

6.1   Introduction of Food Waste Collections

From February 2021 Reading Borough Council will be collecting food waste on a weekly collection. This means that developers would need to take this into account if any developments will be going live from this date.

For individual properties a food waste caddy and an outdoor container will be provided. This means there will need to be enough room within the outdoor space of a property to keep the general waste and recycling bins, as well as a smaller indoor container for food waste.

For larger communal properties, where the residents share bin facilities, each property would still have their own individual kitchen caddy, but a 180litre/240litre communal food waste bin will be required. Therefore the space within the communal bin storage area would need to be made big enough to ensure this extra capacity can be housed, in addition to the general waste and recycling bins.

If you require any further information on what capacity is required for the new service then please contact Reading Borough Council.

6.2   Reduction of size of general waste bins

In addition to the food waste collection there will be a reduction in the size of the general waste bin for residents. Each individual household will have a 140 litre general waste bin instead of the current 240 litre general waste bin. Despite the change in capacity, this would not affect the outside space required as each property would still require space for general waste and recycling bins (and food waste bins).

For communal properties the capacity required will be less for general waste, which may mean (depending on size of the development) that less space would be required for the amount of bins.

The change in general waste bin does not affect the recycling requirement discussed in this document.  

References & Sources

This waste management guide is based on a combination of regulations, codes of practice and specific requirements from Reading Borough Council. Some waste collection solutions mentioned have come from other authorities in the UK and may not be available in Reading at this time.

The following documents should be referred to by architects or developers, but any requirements must still be agreed with by Reading Borough Councils Neighbourhood Services and Planning Department.

  1. British Standards BS 5906:2005 – Waste management in buildings – Code of practice
  2. 2010 No.2214 Building and Buildings, England and Wales – The Building Regulations 2010
  3. The Building Regulations 2000 – Approved Document H, Drainage and Waste Disposal (2002 edition)
  4. Building Regulations 1991 H4
  5. Code for Sustainable Homes – A step-change in sustainable home building practice – DCLG, Dec 2006
  6. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 – Section 46
  7. The Housing Act 2004 – RBC Housing and HMOs teams
  8. The National Waste Management Plan for England 2013
  9. Reading Borough Council’s – Waste Minimisation Strategy 2015/20
  10. Re3 – HWRC
  11. Bracknell Forest Borough Council
  12. Newham London Borough Council Various sections of information throughout the document


For all enquiries relating to Waste Storage, Capacity, Collection and anything within this document contact Waste Operations at Reading Borough Council:

01189 373 787


Please note that it may be necessary to supply site plans and initial waste management proposals (if not already submitted to our Planning Department) to enable your enquiry to be handled.

Appendix A

Waste Container Dimensions

This appendix provides information on the dimensions of Reading Borough Council’s waste receptacles that we supply and empty, all bins are chargeable.

Please be aware that private waste contractors can use a range of various sized vehicles and containers for waste collection and should be consulted at the earliest stage of development.

CapacityHeight (mm)Depth (mm)Width (mm)
140 – litre Colour requirements: General waste only – dark grey (not available in any other waste type)     1065   553   482
180 – litre Colour requirements: Food waste only – dark grey with blue lid (not available in any other waste type)1065744478
240 – litre Colour requirements: General waste – dark grey / Recyling – red     1085   730   575
360 – litre Colour requirements: General waste dark grey / Recycling – red       1090   880   580
660 – litre Colour requirements: General waste – dark grey / Recycling – green11707701360
1100 – litre   Colour requirements: General waste – dark grey / Recyling – green       1295   1118   1370

For Student Accommodation, please contact us for guidance.

Appendix B

Vehicle Dimensions and Specifications

This appendix provides information on Reading Borough Council’s refuse collection vehicles.

Please be aware that private waste contractors use a range of various sized vehicles and containers for waste collection and should be consulted at the earliest stage of development.

Below is the specification for our 2015 Dennis Eagle Elite 6 (6x2RS) with Olympus OL16N Body.

Drive 6 x 2 rear – steer
Overall width 2250 mm
Overall length 8750 mm
Overall height 3540 mm
Wheelbase 4800 mm
Front overhang 1665 mm
Rear overhang 2285 mm
Gross Vehicle Weight 26000 kg
Rear Bogie Plated Weight 19000 kg
Turning Circle – overall (metres) 20.30 m
Approach angle (front wheel – bumper) 15.5°
Departure angle (rear wheel – hopper base) 16°
Last updated on 05/10/2022