According to the Australian Government, over 5.6 million tonnes of hazardous waste is produced in Australia each year, which is over 9% of the total waste generated in the country. And although there have been major changes in the way Australians manage their waste over the last two decades, the amount of waste has increased including the quantity of hazardous waste we generate. So how is it classified and how do you dispose of your hazardous waste responsibly?
What is hazardous waste?
Hazardous waste is waste or products that have the potential to harm humans and/or the environment now or in the future. It can come in the form of solids, liquids and gas and many of the chemicals in our kitchens, garages, bathroom and gardens can cause serious health issues by turning into harmful hazardous waste.
What are the characteristics of hazardous waste?
When you are getting rid of hazardous waste it’s worth knowing a little more about its characteristics in order to understand how important it is to dispose of it correctly. Hazardous waste generally has:
Ignitability – it easily catches on fire. Examples include ethanol, methanol, benzene etc.
Corrosivity – these are usually bases or acids that are capable of corroding metal containers. Examples include nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide solution etc.
Reactivity – they are unstable under normal conditions and can easily cause explosions and generate toxic fumes, violent reactions and explosive gases. Examples include sodium metal, amides, concentrated sulfuric acid, lithium metal, and metal azides etc.
Toxicity – toxic waste leaches contaminated liquid that pollutes the groundwater. Examples include silver, cadmium, barium etc.
Why do I need to dispose of it correctly?
Putting hazardous materials down the sink or in your general waste or recycling bin is often not safe as these types of materials can be flammable, corrosive, explosive or toxic. However, there are a variety of ways you can dispose of your hazardous waste safely and responsibly, which will not only keep your home and family safe, but protect the environment.
What sort of services does my local council offer?
In terms of hazardous waste disposal, the Brisbane City Council has a number of free Resource Recovery Centres that are open to 6.30am to 5.45pm every day of the year, including on most public holidays. The council also runs designated drop-off days throughout the year at various suburbs around Brisbane where residents can deposit up to 20 litres of hazardous waste for free.
Here is a rundown of what to do with various kinds of hazardous waste you may find in your bathroom, kitchen, garage and garden.
What is hazardous waste in the bathroom?
Aftershaves, perfumes, bathroom cleaners, disinfectants and hair care products can be disposed of down the drain* but not in your general waste bin.
Wet wipes and cotton buds should be put in your general waste bin# not flushed down the toilet.
Medicines past their use by date or those that are no longer wanted should only be disposed of safely via your local pharmacy, not thrown in your general waste bin.
What is hazardous waste in the kitchen?
Cooking oils should not be flushed down the sink but placed in your general waste bin#.
Inspect sprays should be disposed of on designated drop-off days.
Drain cleaners, disinfectants and window and ammonia-based cleaners are OK to be flushed down the sink*.
Floor care products and metal polishes should either be placed in your general waste bin# or dropped off at your local Resource Recovery Centre.
What is hazardous waste in the garage?
Antifreeze is OK to be flushed down drains* and can also be disposed of on designated drop-off days.
Car batteries that are lead acid varieties and motor oils, sump oil and gear oil can be dropped off at your local Resource Recovery Centre or disposed of on designated drop-off days.
Brake fluid and petrol and marine fuel should only be disposed of on designated drop-off days.
Windshield washer solution can be flushed down the sewer* or disposed of on designated drop-off days.
What is hazardous waste in the garden?
Fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and weed killers should only be disposed of on designated drop-off days.
What are other hazardous wastes?
Paints can be placed in your general waste bin#, dropped off at your local Resource Recovery Centre or disposed of on designated drop-off days.
Dry cleaning solvents should only be disposed of on designated drop-off days.
Fibreglass resins can be placed in your general waste bin# or disposed of on designated drop-off days.
Empty gas bottles and smoke detectors can be dropped off at your local Resource Recovery Centre or disposed of on designated drop-off days.
Fire extinguishers, swimming pool and photographic chemicals can only be disposed of on designated drop-off days.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs can be placed in your general waste bin#, dropped off at your local Resource Recovery Centre or disposed of on designated drop-off days.
Asbestos can only be disposed of by asbestos removal contractors.
Dead animals can be disposed of by calling the Brisbane City Council on (07) 3403 8888.
* The waste product should be mixed with lots of water and small quantities put down the sewer through your toilet or sink. It should never be put into septic tanks or down stormwater drains as they harm the environment.
# In terms of disposing of hazardous waste, you can only put small amounts of it in your rubbish bin. Small amounts of liquid can be dried and solidified by adding a material to soak up the liquid such as soil, kitty litter or grass clippings. Alternatively, liquids can be poured onto newspaper and covered with absorbent material.
Ready to get your skip bin organised but not sure how to dispose of your hazardous waste? Get in touch with the experts at Cutters Skips today on 0417 644 901.
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