Waste Matters

Household Hazardous Waste disposal

You may be surprised to know that many familiar products you use to clean or improve your home, maintain your car, or deal with pests, can be hazardous.

Once you decide to discard these products, or no longer have a use for them, they become Hazardous Household Waste (HHW).

If disposed of incorrectly or released into the environment, HHW can cause harm to people, animals and our residential areas.

Click on any of the links below or scroll down to find out more about how you can avoid and dispose of HHW safely.

What is Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)?
Identifying HHW material
Why can't HHW be put down the drain or into rubbish bins?
So what can we do to A.V.O.I.D. the hazard?
Guidelines for safe disposal of HHW
Recycling tips for HHW containers
Alternatives to HHW
Where can I dispose of HHW?
Useful contacts for HHW

What is Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)?

Household Hazardous Waste are household chemicals or items which may be toxic, flammable, reactive or corrosive and not suitable to go into our household bins to landfill or be released into the environment.

Hazardous Household Waste is usually found in the following places around your home:

In the bathroom
Cleaners (window, shower, tile), disinfectants, hair colours and bleaches, medicines & prescription drugs, pharmaceuticals, nail polish and nail polish remover.

In the kitchen
Drain cleaners, window cleaners, bleaches, disinfectants, oven cleaners, metal, (silver) polishes, furniture polishes, fire extinguishers, floor care products.

In the garden
Pesticides, fertilizers, fungicide, weed killers, mouse and rat poisons, lawn chemicals, herbicides, insect repellents, insecticides.

In the garage or workshop/shed
Contact cements, thinners, lacquers, paint/stain strippers & removers, stains, varnishes, roof tar & other water proofing agents, oil-based paints, chemical strippers, photographic chemicals.

Car waxes, starting fluids, repair products, auto batteries & battery fluid, transmission fluids, rust removers, brake fluid, wood preservative, glue, degreaser, petrol, motor oils, kerosene, lighter fluid, dye, gas cylinders (from BBQs, camping stoves and lamps), pool chemicals, insect repellents and insecticides.

Around the home
Flea collars & sprays, cockroach/flea/fly bombs, pet worming tablets, heartworm tablets, mothballs, fluorescent tubes & bulbs, aerosol cans, batteries and chargers.

Identifying hazardous household material

A substance is HAZARDOUS if it can catch fire, react or explode when mixed with other substances, if it releases dangerous vapours or odours or if it is corrosive or toxic.

FLAMMABLE materials contain substances that can burn easily or catch fire or explode.
Look for warnings on the labels like:

  • Do not use near heat nor flame
  • Combustible
  • Do not smoke while using this product

CORROSIVE materials can burn skin, harm your lungs and eat away the surface of other materials.

Look for warnings on the labels like:

  • Causes severe burns on contact
  • Can burn eyes, skin and throat

TOXIC products, even in small quantities, can cause immediate poisoning, injury and death. Repeated exposure can cause long-term health problems like cancer, birth defects, illness and death.

Look for warnings on the labels like:

  • Harmful or fatal if swallowed
  • Use only in a well-ventilated area (This means fumes are toxic)

CAUTION REACTIVE materials can react with other substances to produce poisonous fumes or explode.

Protect yourself, your family and the environment. Read product labels carefully, and think before you throw.

Why can’t HHW be put down the drain or into rubbish bins?

Water pollution is caused by industry, landfills, sewage disposal and our everyday activities.

Drainage systems carry rain and sprinkler runoff from streets and private properties and discharge it to local creeks, rivers and ultimately into lakes and the ocean. Some of this water also seeps down into the groundwater finding its way into our precious drinking water supplies.

Many household wastes contain substances that have the potential to harm life in our rivers and lakes, and contaminate our drinking water and the food chain. It is important that HHW are disposed of appropriately.

If you live in Perth’s Eastern Region, the contents of your yellow-topped wheelie bin are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Here material is recovered for recycling into new, useful products such as bottles and cans.  If you have a green waste collection container, the products are processed into high quality compost for use in local agriculture.

HHW in your  bins will contaminate compost, mulches and recyclable packaging. It may harm the people who collect, process and turn your household waste into a useful resource. It may also be flammable and pose a fire danger to staff on the landfill site.

So what can you do to A.V.O.I.D. the hazard?

Besides ensuring that you don't dispose of your HHW down drains, on the ground or in your bin, there are a number of other simple things you can do to avoid the hazard. Here are five simple steps to help you prevent the danger to your family and the environment!

Assess – do you really need the Hazardous Product? ASSESS the risks of using Hazardous products and think hard about the necessity of doing the job at all!

Variety – when shopping, seek safer or less hazardous VARIETIES whenever possible. There are a number of environmentally safe product varieties appearing on the market. Remember that the decision buyers make, affects the way manufacturers design products!

Only buy small amounts – Reducing the amount of HHW discarded can make a big difference. Make sure you know how much you need for the job and ONLY buy this amount so that it’s all used up and no HHW is generated.

Inform – inform your neighbours, family and friends, local charities and community organisations that you have spare or leftover HHW products that they may be able to use.

Disposal – always DISPOSE of your HHW properly. Store it in a safe place until you have enough to warrant a trip to Red Hill Waste Management Facility or a drop-off day.

Guidelines for safe disposal of HHW

  • If possible keep products in their original containers, or in a leak-proof container that is clearly labelled.
  • Label materials that are not in their original container. If you don’t remember the name of a specific product, list what kind of a product it is such as a pesticide or a cleaning product.
  • Never use chemical containers for other purposes and NEVER mix materials or products.
  • If a container is leaking, place it in a larger container, with a tightly fitting lid. Label the outside container with the contents.
  • Transport products in a trailer, ute or in the boot of the car. If this isn't possible, make sure there is adequate ventilation within the vehicle. Place products upright in a cardboard box so that they do not tip over in transport.
  • Check all containers and make sure they have secure lids.
  • Do not smoke while transporting HHW.
  • Keep flammable products out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat, sparks, flames or ignition.

Recycling tips for HHW containers

General
Check to see if your HHW container can be used for refills, exchanged or taken back at the place of purchase (E.g. gas cylinders, car batteries).

Paint tins and containers
Try to wipe/squeeze as much paint as possible from the brushes, trays and rollers back into the paint tin for future use.
Useful tip! Keep a small amount of paint in a small sealed jar to fix chips and scratches and other marks on walls and ceilings etc for future use.

Left over paint that can’t be used or is no longer required should be removed from the can and allowed to dry outside on a plastic sheet, newspaper or old cloth. Once it is solid it can be disposed of in your green bin and the clean empty tin recycled.

For more information on safe paint disposal, please download the brochure below.

Download Safe paint disposal fact sheet.

Aerosol cans
Empty aerosol cans are safe to recycle. So use up everything in the can and then place the empty aerosol can in your yellow-topped bin.

Alternatives to HHW

There are green alternatives to pesticides, chlorine, ammonia and phosphate-based cleaning products.

Many effective products can be made from everyday items that are kept in your pantry or laundry, such as vinegar. Supermarkets also stock a wide range of non-hazardous products - just make sure you check the label first.

If your supermarket, hardware or nursery don't stock the green alternatives you require, contact one of the specialist shops below:

Perth Eco-Shop (Environment House), King William Street, Bayswater
www.envirohouse.org.au
Ph: (08) 9271 4488

One Earth Outlet, Balcatta
www.oneearthoutlet.com.au
Ph: (08) 1300 327 841

People and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
www.paws.org.au
Ph: (08) 9228 2435

You can also obtain publications from your local library, bookstore or online with ideas for household products or practices. Some examples include:

  • Spotless, Shannon Lush 
  • Speed Cleaning, Shannon Lush
  • How to be Comfy, Shannon Lush

For further information, go to: www.shannonlush.com

Greeniology, Tanya Ha

For further information, go to: www.tanyaha.com/greeniology.html

Green Cleaner, Barbara Lord

Where can I dispose of HHW?

There are a number of permanent drop-off facilities throughout Perth for residents to safely dispose of hazardous items which must not go into your green-top rubbish bin. It is free to take a combined total of 20kg/20L maximum of items to any of the locations listed in the table below.

The Waste Authority site lists locations across WA as well as the products that can be disposed at these drop off locations.

The main drop off facility in Perth's Eastern Region is:

Red Hill Waste Management Facility
1094 Toodyay Road, Red Hill
Tel: (08) 9574 6235 

Useful contacts for HHW

Poison Emergency Number: 13 11 26

Automotive products

(Oils, coolants, oil filters, tyres). Contact the Motor Trade Association of Western Australia on (08) 9453 7900 or visit www.mtawa.com.au and click

Gas bottles

For LP Gas refills and cylinder re-testing call Kleenheat Gas on 13 21 80 or visit:
http://www.kleenheat.com.au

Fluorescent light recycling

Visit EMRC's fluorescent light recycling program to find a recycling drop-off point near you.

Household (dry-cell) batteries

Visit EMRC's household battery recycling program to find a recycling drop-off point.

Mobile phones and mobile phone batteries

All makes and models can be recycled. Visit Mobile Muster for a drop-off point near you.
Phone: 1300 730 070

Last modified: 04:40 pm Tue, 29th of Jul 2014