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Recycling centre policy and site restrictions

Vans and cars being unloaded at a recycling centre.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Wherever possible, please use your kerbside collections. This is the most convenient way to dispose of your household waste and recycling.

All recycling centres are operating in line with normal health and safety rules at maximum capacity. Users are not permitted to unload their vehicle whilst queuing and will be allowed on site in order of arrival.

Essex County Council (ECC) recycling centres are licenced by the Environment Agency and are for household waste only. Limits apply on DIY and construction waste. Business, trade and commercial waste is not accepted at any ECC recycling centre. Find out more about disposing of business and trade waste.

CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is in operation at the sites for the purpose of crime prevention and public safety. Details of vehicles may be recorded for monitoring purposes.

Recycling centre rules

  • You will need to book a slot to visit the recycling centre unless you are a Blue Badge holder or visiting as a pedestrian or cyclist.
  • Don't queue before the site opens - this stops site staff and collection crews from accessing the depots.
  • Allow plenty of time to queue, unload and exit the site - you may not be permitted access if you arrive too close to closing time.
  • Long queues outside the sites can add to local traffic congestion - you may be asked to move on if you're causing an obstruction.
  • Users should ensure their vehicle is safely parked with the engine off before displaying their booking confirmation on their mobile device.
  • Follow site staff instructions, treat site staff with respect and be considerate of other site users
  • Sites are subject to temporary closures during busy periods.
  • Site staff may be able to assist in certain circumstances and where requested to do so.
  • Users are not allowed to park their vehicle outside the site and walk waste into the site.
  • Site staff reserve the right to ask residents to complete unloading and leave the site within the recommended unloading time. This may be needed during busy periods to ensure sites operate as fully as possible.
  • There are no toilet facilities available at our sites. Staff toilets may be made available to the public in exceptional circumstances at the site supervisor’s discretion.
  • You must be a resident in the statutory area of Essex County Council to use the ECC recycling centres.* Staff may ask for proof of residency from visitors (such as a council tax bill or driving licence). If you are unsure of your local council area you can check here.

* Residents from nearby areas in Suffolk or Hertfordshire can also visit the sites. This is thanks to reciprocal partnerships with Suffolk County Council and Hertfordshire County Council allowing cross-border use. Essex residents wishing to visit a Hertfordshire recycling centre will need to apply for a free annual permit.

Items accepted at any ECC recycling centre

The following items can be taken to any ECC recycling centre as long as they are from your own household:

  • Batteries
  • Books
  • Car batteries
  • Cardboard
  • Clothing and textiles
  • Cooking oil
  • Engine oil
  • Garden waste
  • General rubbish
  • Light bulbs and fluorescent tubes
  • Mixed glass bottles and jars
  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Printer cartridges
  • Scrap metal
  • Small electrical appliances
  • Tyres
  • Vapes (e-cigarettes)
  • Wood and timber

Items containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as sofas and chairs, are accepted at all recycling centres. In line with guidance from the Environment Agency, a separate container is provided to ensure the correct disposal of these items. Please speak to site staff if you are unsure where to deposit items.

Types of recycling centres

There are two types of Essex County Council recycling centre, large recycling centres and small recycling centres. Large and small recycling centres have different vehicle and site restrictions, please read the following information before visiting any recycling centre.

Large recycling centres

The following recycling centres are classed as large recycling centres:

Large recycling centre vehicle and site restrictions

Vans (under 3,500kg / 3.5 tonnes) will be accepted at large recycling centres with a valid booking if they are carrying your own household waste. You are required to make a booking in advance of visiting the site.

Please check what Essex County Council defines as a van, pick-up or large trailer as you may need to book a slot for a large vehicle. There is a separate booking system if you are visiting in a car.

Site staff may stop you at the gate to ensure the waste you are carrying has come from your household.

Book your recycling centre visit

Any vehicle that is over 3,500 kg (3.5 tonnes), agricultural vehicles, horse boxes/trailers and tipping flatbeds are not accepted at any of the recycling centres in Essex.

Large recycling centres accept small quantities of some DIY and construction waste, providing you have completed the work yourself and it is from your own household.

In any single visit you may not exceed each of the following:

  • three wheelbarrow loads (one car boot) of soil, hardcore or gypsum-based products including plasterboard and dry wall lining
  • one wheelbarrow load of tiles
  • three large ceramic items (such as a toilet or wash basin)
  • one uPVC or wooden window frame
  • one uPVC or wooden door
  • three wooden internal doors
  • any element of a built-in kitchen

Small recycling centres

The following recycling centres are classed as small recycling centres:

Small recycling centre vehicle and site restrictions

Small recycling centres do not accept any vans (including car derived vans, pick-ups, trucks) or any towed trailer with more than one axle. This rule excludes Blue Badge holders who are permitted to visit any Essex recycling centre in a van. Please check what Essex County Council defines as a van, pick-up or large trailer. Vehicles that are not permitted, cannot park outside the site and carry waste into any recycling centre.

You need to book a slot to visit any Essex County Council Recycling Centre in any vehicle.

Book your recycling centre visit

DIY and construction waste are not permitted at any small recycling centre. This includes soil, hardcore, plasterboard, tiles, any element of a built-in bathroom or kitchen. This restriction does not currently apply to Rayleigh Recycling Centre which is able to accept small quantities of DIY and construction waste. Please see Rayleigh Recycling Centre page for more information.

Items not accepted at any ECC recycling centre

The following items cannot be taken to any ECC recycling centre. You must arrange a separate collection or disposal of these items. 

Find out how to correctly dispose of household hazardous waste in Essex

Get the most out of your visit

To ensure your visit to any recycling centre is as quick and easy as possible, please be aware of the following:

  • Sorting items before visiting will make things easier when you are on site.
  • If you bring unsorted items into the site you may be asked to separate these by staff to ensure they can be recycled.
  • Switch off your engine when queuing - this will help to keep air pollution levels down for other site users and staff
  • If possible, avoid the weekend and bank holidays when our sites are normally busy.
  • Try to avoid bringing waste to the site which you could recycle or dispose of via your kerbside waste collection service as this helps to reduce congestion on site.
  • At each site there will be an allocated ‘Reuser’, this person may put reusable items aside for reuse which helps to reduce the environmental impact of waste.
  • If disposing of household fridges and freezers, ensure they are defrosted, clean and contain no food.
  • A small amount of garden and household chemicals will be accepted. Give these items to a member of site staff.
  • If disposing of electrical devices, remove SIM cards and any personal information beforehand.

Site safety at all recycling centres

Members of site staff are there to advise you, please note that aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated. For any accessibility queries please ask a member of site staff for advice.

  • Children and pets should be kept inside your vehicle at all times.
  • Suitable clothing, gloves and enclosed footwear is advisable when using this site.
  • Paths are provided for safety. Please be cautious when moving around the site, especially during wet conditions when surfaces may be slippery.
  • Items should be placed (not thrown) in the correct container. If you are unsure what container to use, ask a member of site staff.

Once items are deposited in a container, they cannot be removed. Please donate items in a reusable condition, before visiting a recycling centre.

Find out more about recycling centres

Find your nearest recycling centre

Advice for businesses disposing of their waste in Essex

Fly-tipping in Essex