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Manage hazardous waste
Australian households and garages often contain a cocktail of toxic products and chemicals that are classified as hazardous waste. This includes products such as motor oil, chemicals, paints and thinners, pesticides, oven cleaners, batteries and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
Hazardous waste can potentially cause serious harm to the environment and your health if not managed and disposed of correctly.
Check with your local council for hazardous waste collection services available in your area. Regulations for hazardous waste disposal and services vary between states. You can also check Planet Ark's RecyclingNearYou. Victoria has a mobile toxic waste service which travels to regional areas.
There are a number of ways you can reduce your use of some of these hazardous products as well as recycling options.
- Keep you and your family safe
- Reduce hazardous waste
- Cut back on the use of hazardous products
At a glance
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Look for ways to reduce the amount of chemicals you buy for your household.
- Choose natural or low-toxin alternatives where possible. Check the labels of products and compare to see which product is the safer alternative.
- Look for water-based paints and paints with lower levels of chemical and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Buy only the amount of product you need.
- Consider natural alternatives to chemical household cleaners like bicarbonate of soda, borax and vinegar. There are many books or online websites with hints on non-toxic or less toxic alternatives to chemical cleaners.
- Consider whether the product you are buying needs batteries. Is there a hand-operated alternative? Does it need a remote control? Can you buy toys that don't need batteries?
Look for ways to re-use.
- Re-use cleaning rags and the protective gloves needed for chemical cleaning.
- You may be able to store paints for use in the future. Store small amounts in sealed glass containers to avoid rust in tins.
- If you have leftover paint or other products, pass them on to someone else who may use them.
There are many products that can be recycled. Recycling means that we are able to save and re-use some of the resources contained in waste products, and that we are sending less rubbish to landfill.
Check with your local council about waste disposal and recycling facilities or Planet Ark's RecyclingNearYou about hazardous waste recycling facilities in your area. Things you can recycle include:
- motor oil
- car batteries
- household batteries
- fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent globes (CFLs)
- BBQ gas cylinders up to 9 kilograms (check with facility).
You can also recycle paint using:
You can also recycle home electronic waste (e-waste) products which contain hazardous substances such as mobile phones, televisions and computers.
If you have any hazardous waste in your home, make sure that there is a safe and secure place to store it until you can dispose of it correctly.
Store hazardous products (such as paint products and chemicals) carefully with labels intact, in an upright position and in a cool, dry environment. Store away from:
- sources of heat and moisture
- ignition sources such as power points and electrical equipment
- combustible material such as paper, rags and cardboard
- children and animals.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions for storing and handling hazardous products. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all hazardous products are available from the manufacturer.
- Check how old items are—some chemicals become more volatile with age.
- If the label is damaged or missing, treat the product as dangerous and dispose of it accordingly.
Ensure your hazardous waste storage area is safe:
- Make sure it's lockable and weatherproof.
- Keep the area clean. If products are kept in a shed, keep the grass around it short and don't allow rubbish to build up nearby to reduce the risk of fire.
- Make sure flames, sparks and other sources of heat are well away from the hazardous waste. Don't let anyone smoke near where the waste is kept.
- Keep a fire extinguisher close by.
- Check there is enough ventilation in the storage area so fumes don't build up.
Many products or chemicals around the home can be dangerous if thrown away incorrectly, including batteries and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Your local council is your first point of contact to find out how to dispose of hazardous waste correctly—there may be chemical clean-up days when you can drop off your hazardous waste to be disposed of correctly.
- Don't re-use your chemical containers or wash them out. Recycle through a hazardous waste centre. When taking toxic products to the disposal site keep chemicals in their original container with the lid tightly fitted.
- Safe paint disposal is important. Leftover paint from brushes, trays and rollers should not be washed down the drain or sink as this will pollute waterways. Paint can be recycled using:
- Check with your local council or Planet Ark's RecyclingNearYou for disposal services available in your area. Victoria has a mobile toxic waste service which travels to regional areas.
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