A Guide to Grit Bins in the UK

A Guide to Grit Bins in the UK
10 May 2024 20 view(s) 9 min read
A Guide to Grit Bins in the UK

Have you ever wondered, “What are the yellow boxes on the pavement?” All drivers and pedestrians will have noticed grit bins but will most likely not have seen them being used or understood why they are essential pieces of equipment for councils and individuals to own. Grit bins are boxes that are placed by the side of the road by councils or local authorities that contain grit for spreading on icy or slippery communal surfaces.

Our grit bin guide includes everything you need to know about grit bins, how to find and use them, where to buy grit bins, and how to understand the contents and management of council grit bins. First, we’ll review the basics of grit bin ownership and grit bin usage. 

Who owns the yellow boxes on the pavement and can I use them?

Grit bin FAQs

How to use a council grit bin

Should I buy my own grit bin? 

What features you should look for when buying a grit bin

Where can I find grit bins near me?

Who owns the yellow boxes on the pavement and can I use them?

Most local authorities in the UK place yellow grit bins on pavements in easy-to-access locations. This is particularly true of councils that act as the location’s highway authority and supplement the work done by those councils in gritting the roads in colder months. 

Though the local authorities may use gritting vehicles and have personnel to check on road surfaces, they also hope the public will get involved and treat shared roads and pavements.

However, the expectation is that the public will only use the contents of council grit boxes for communal spaces and not for private driveways or paths.

Below, we cover some commonly asked questions regarding grit bins and how to find and use them.

Grit bin FAQs

Who owns the yellow grit bins at the end of the road?

Yellow grit bins are usually the property of your local council or the local authority responsible for highways in your area. Some local authorities supply yellow grit boxes to care homes, schools, colleges and other public buildings as part of a service agreement.

Where can I find my nearest grit bin? 

You'll most likely find a grit bin is often placed near a sharp bend, junction, steep hill or residential area. The area may have a high proportion of elderly residents.

If you haven’t noticed any grit bins in the locations mentioned above, you could search for “grit bins near me” in a search engine or visit your council’s website to find the locations of local grit bins.

If you’re a homeowner and wish to discuss which grit bin to purchase for your property, Kingfisher Direct are on hand to advise you via email or telephone

Can I take grit from the bin for my driveway?

The short answer is no. Yellow grit bins along public roads or around some buildings are not intended for private use. You need to buy a grit container if you need to use grit at your home or business.

What happens if I take too much grit or use it in the wrong place? 

Using grit, salt, or a combination of both, can be a crucial road safety measure and a way to make car parks, roads and pavements safer. However, too much grit can become a problem and a buildup may prevent water from draining on the surface. The contents of council grit bins can also risk blocking domestic drains and staining driveways, such as brickweave or resin, so be sure to keep the council grit away from your property’s driveway and drainage system.

How do I report a damaged or empty yellow grit bin?

Local authorities have systems in place so you can notify them of any grit bin issues in your local area, such as helpline numbers and online forms. Kingfisher Direct is based in Nottinghamshire, and the county council for this area provides a webpage for community members to report damaged or empty grit bins. 

What is in a grit bin?

The contents of a grit bin can include sand, salt (usually rock salt) and additives such as calcium chloride. This grit provides friction on icy surfaces. It is formulated to be harmless to the local environment and eventually integrates safely into the soil.

The de-icing salt sometimes used in yellow grit bins inhibits water’s ability to freeze solid, meaning grit is an important part of road preparation and safety when weather reports predict icy conditions.

Is it safe for my pets to walk on grit?

Though pets wouldn't come to immediate harm from walking across a gritted surface, dogs and cats may lick their paws afterwards and ingest an unhealthy amount of salt. It is highly advisable to wash or wipe the paws of a cat or dog that has been out during icy weather and act fast if you do suspect rocksalt poisoning.

Can I buy a grit bin for my property?

Buying a grit bin for your domestic or professional property is a sensible idea if you have additional risks, such as a long or steep driveway, elderly family members or young children. It is also recommended that residents living on unadopted roads find a supplier of single or small-order grit bins. Kingfisher Direct can help in these circumstances.

You can purchase compact, lockable grit bins under £50 online from Kingfisher Direct, as well as de-icing salt and scoops. Kingfisher Direct can also offer guidance on public grit bins in the local area and the type of grit bins you may need for your property. 

How to use a council grit bin

If a nearby road or pavement appears to be outside the current operation of your council gritting service, or you need a quick fix for communal surfaces, then you can use the contents of a yellow grit box. You can spread grit from the box as a preventative measure before bad weather and if snow has fallen, try to move that aside before applying grit.

When using a council grit bin, a spade, shovel or thick pair of gardening gloves is needed to scatter the contents over the road or path that presents a risk. You must be vigilant and avoid standing on roads to do this, especially in poor light. If you have a hi-vis jacket, we suggest you wear this when spreading the grit or enlist the help of a neighbour so they can watch for danger while you grit the road.

Should I buy my own grit bin? 

Car insurance companies have reported that serious accidents are approximately four times more likely during cold months. Visits to A&E departments in hospitals due to falls and slips multiply fivefold in those same months. We supply councils, businesses and homeowners with grit bins

Grit can also help you tackle patches of ‘black ice’ on your driveway if you live in a hilly area or on an unadopted road. Black ice is deceptive, as ice forms as a glazed, transparent layer that is hard to see and even if you can’t see the ice, gritting surfaces during icy weather can prevent slips and accidents from occurring.

If the environmental implications of having your private-use grit bin are of concern, choose a grit container made from recycled polyethylene from our range of eco-friendly storage options. Also, you will need to find the best snow shovel which could double as a grit-spreading tool.

What features you should look for when buying a grit bin

Some local authorities supply yellow grit boxes to care homes, schools, colleges and other public buildings as part of a service agreement. These can then be used to treat surfaces which could become hazardous for building users. However, these are only open to use on public property and should not be used for private driveways or pathways. However, if you're looking to buy a grit bin for your home or business, you might have different requirements and so should consider some of the following features when purchasing a grit bin. 

Size and durability

If you need a workplace grit bin or live in a highly populated area, a popular option is a lockable grit bin. This option helps prevent unauthorised or inappropriate use of its contents. You can select yellow grit bins with the correct capacity and design for your premises too. Make sure you choose a grit bin that holds enough grit to cover your driveway and walkway to prevent any hazards from occurring. 

Safety and handling

If you are a business, school or similar organisation, you should also conduct a risk assessment of your roads, exits, entrances, car parks and pathways. This will allow you to calculate a manageable weight and the appropriate material for your grit bin. 

Homeowners looking for private-use grit should consider purchasing a grit bin that comes with the necessary tools to grit their walkways safely and efficiently. For instance, our winter kits work well for both public playgrounds and large, privately owned properties. Purchasing these kits is a great way to bulk-buy quantities of grit salt, gloves, shovels and high-vis vests, thus minimising the risk of injury when gritting hilly or troublesome surfaces.

Assembly and aesthetics

If your business operations involve heavy vehicle or foot traffic, such as company fleets or delivery trucks, it makes sense to find a supplier of heavy-duty grit bins, delivered with a large quantity of specialist salt and grit spreading equipment. This includes our winter car park kit, complete with equipment such as an easy-to-use grit spreader, a manual snow plough, snow shovels and three yellow grit bins for car parks and private roads.

When purchasing grit bins for commercial premises or home use, we offer alternatives to yellow grit bins. For instance, our household grit bin is one of several outdoor storage containers available in a variety of colours. 

Cost

Overall, purchasing a single grit bin or a grit bin kit needs to be worthwhile, and purchasing the correct size and material will depend on its intended usage. Finding the right balance between your budget and the required features is essential when deciding which grit bin to purchase. 

When conducting a risk assessment, consider rating the essential and secondary features you want your grit bin to provide. For example, if your grit bin will be placed next to a road, consider purchasing a grit bin kit with high-vis and lockable features to ensure maximum safety. If, however, you only need to grit your private driveway, a smaller grit bin with a spout attachment could be a great option. 

Ultimately, ease of use and durability will determine which grit bin you purchase, so think carefully and feel free to contact us if you need more advice on which grit bin product is best for you.

Where can I find grit bins near me?

Kingfisher Direct offers a range of grit bins available to buy online, including council grit bin models and the best grit bins for home or business use. It’s important to buy from a trusted and expert provider when purchasing safety equipment, so get in touch via email at sales@kingfisherdirect.co.uk, or by telephone on 01777 858009, to discuss the right grit bin for your property.

However, to find your nearest public-use grit bin, visit your local council website. Unfortunately, that information is not always available or up to date. So, if you have concerns about a localised risk, contact your local council for advice and consider investing in a dedicated grit bin for your own driveway or work premises to keep motorists, cyclists and pedestrians safe in icy weather.

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