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Last reviewed: Fri, 21 Jan 2011

Hazardous waste

Everyday products such as paints, cleaners, and batteries can pose a hazard to our health and the environment.

If a product is corrosive, flammable, reactive or toxic it can be hazardous. Household items, all commercial or large quantities of hazardous/special waste need careful handling and must be disposed of safely.

What is hazardous waste?

Hazardous waste is waste that can be dangerous to human health, property or the environment if not properly treated, stored, transported, disposed of or otherwise managed.

Hazardous waste is mainly liquid or solid (but can be gaseous) and can be ignitable, explosive, corrosive, reactive, toxic, infectious or radioactive.

Some examples include:

  • asbestos
  • gas bottles
  • solvents e.g. turpentine, and solvent-based paints
  • oil and other petroleum products
  • lead acid batteries
  • industrial chemicals e.g. timber treatment or metal processing waste, redundant or spoiled stocks of processing or laboratory chemicals
  • household chemicals including redundant medicines and garden sprays
  • agricultural chemical waste and containers
  • explosives including fireworks, flares and ammunition
  • mercury
  • medical sharps.

Hazardous waste does not include wood painted with lead-based paint, treated timber, household batteries (dry cell or gel batteries) or household smoke detectors. Although these materials contain potentially hazardous elements, the risk to human health and the environment is small and they may be disposed of through your domestic kerbside collection service (your red rubbish bin) or at a transfer station.

What is special waste?

Special wastes are commercial or significant quantities of waste that are not hazardous but require special handling during disposal. Examples include bulk grain, decontaminated soil, odorous materials and materials written off or considered unusable by Customs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries or insurance assessment.

These materials can not generally be accepted at transfer stations and will need to be transported directly to landfill.

Need more help?

You can search the Target Sustainability recycling directory to find out how to safely dispose of hazardous waste. Or contact Canterbury Waste Services to find out about requirements for your specific situation.

Phone: (03) 359 1800


Authorising Unit: City Water and Waste

Last reviewed: Friday, 21 January 2011

Next review: Thursday, 21 July 2011

Keywords: hazardous waste