Commercial bin cleaning for local authorities

Daniel Coulon, director at the National Association of Wheeled Bin Washers sets out some of the solutions for bin cleaning.

Demand for commercial bin cleaning is running at an all-time high across the UK. With increased pressure from the Government for local authorities and NHS Trusts to step up their attention towards commercial bin hygiene (see under healthcare waste - waste storage, segregation and handling appropriate measures for permitted facilities) and written by the Environment Agency.

The guidance shows that “commercial facilities must inspect waste containers used to transport waste before each reuse to make sure that they have been cleaned and disinfected, they are physically sound and the locking mechanism works.

The methods you use for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and containers must: physically remove contamination; be capable of achieving disinfection across the broad spectrum of micro-organisms with the parameters used (time, concentration, temperature, quantity); not produce emissions of pathogenic bioaerosols or chemical agents, or must make sure these emissions are contained and managed appropriately; contain wash-waters within an impermeable area and either discharge them to foul sewer or dispose of them appropriately off-site; prevent run-off into external areas or to surface water drains; and prevent healthcare waste items from being discharged to water (including to sewer).

To successfully win contracts with local authorities and NHS Trusts, bin cleaning companies across the country including the majority of our members are investing heavily in purpose-built mobile bin-cleaning equipment manufactured here in the UK by NAWBW-approved equipment manufacturers.

Increased demand

The National Association of Wheeled Bin Washers has seen increased demand for commercial bin cleaning from care homes, shopping centres, and hospitals up and down the country, this being especially the case since the COVID-19 pandemic.

NHS Trusts are now including commercial bin cleaning within their waste strategies, insisting their waste contractors include regular onsite bin cleaning as well as the waste collection when entering into the tendering process.

Cleaning schedules

To fulfil this requirement, NHS Trusts, local councils, facility management companies, and waste contractors are adopting one of two methods. Some employ the services of local or national bin cleaning companies which include our members, these companies must use purpose-built state-of-the-art bin-cleaning equipment, only use approved biodegradable germ and bacteria-killing chemicals and have professionally trained staff equipped with the correct PPE.

When subcontracting bin cleaning companies, local authorities and hospitals are requiring bins to be cleaned on a range of frequencies depending on the type of waste contained inside.

Recycling and general waste bins tend to be cleaned once a month, while food waste bins in some instances are scheduled for weekly cleaning. Some bin cleaning companies using the industry’s most advanced equipment, are even washing the yellow hazardous waste bins onsite which is saving the NHS money against having these bins collected in a lorry and taken away to be cleaned offsite then returned at a later date.

Bin cleaning subcontractors are expected to responsibly contain the wastewater used in the cleaning process before disposing of it at a registered drop-off point approved by the local water authorities with legal consent to discharge at the property.

Bin-cleaning providers

Employing the services of a bin cleaning company works well for most facilities such as care homes, hospitals and shopping centres as the cleaning teams can work in conjunction with a waste contractor, arriving on site shortly after the waste has been collected allowing our members to hygienically and environmentally responsibly clean the bins before being returned across the sites to be put back into use.

Bin-cleaning equipment

The second method local authorities and NHS Trusts are taking to tackle the problem of dirty unhygienic bins is to purchase static and mobile bin-cleaning equipment to wash their bin stock in-house. As an Association we are proud that the two main suppliers of this type of equipment are approved members of the National Association of Wheeled Bin Washers and their directors sit on our board keeping us up to date with any industry developments.

The UK has led the way in manufacturing commercial bin-cleaning equipment for the last couple of decades now with the very first static bin wash prototype being installed in Walsgrave Hospital, Coventry by Green Cleen (UK) Ltd nearly twenty years ago.

Since then we have seen a growth of bin cleaning industries starting up across Europe, Australia The US and Canada all using the UK model as a template and these overseas companies are buying their equipment largely from UK-based manufacturers.

Static Bin Wash systems allow the customers to install electric versions of the machines reducing their carbon footprint and unnecessary use of fossil fuel-powered engines.

Far safer for the operator and more risk-free, these machines are floor-mounted in a fixed position usually located next to the waste compactors. This allows operators to take the commercial bins to be emptied and then give the bins a quick wash each time before circulating them back around the site.

As an association, we are pleased to see local authorities and NHS Trusts starting to take bin hygiene seriously and understand that the Government is now even fining some NHS Trusts who do not clean their commercial bins regularly and responsibly.

Unfortunately, there are no funds or grants included in this drive to encourage responsible commercial bin hygiene so we would like to see more financial assistance in the form of grants given to the NHS and local authorities to install commercial bin-cleaning equipment so we can see every hospital, care home and shopping centre across the country having their bins cleaned regularly so they can catch up with the private sector which includes clients such as airports, hotels, sporting and music venues across the UK who have been employing bin cleaning services or investing in bin cleaning systems for several years now.

If you would like more information on setting up a bin cleaning service or installing mobile or static bin cleaning equipment for your facility, contact the NAWBW at (01785) 281308 or email

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