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Rubbish & Recycling
~ Rāpihi me te hangarua

rubbish bin

Household Hazardous Waste

What are Hazardous Wastes?

Hazardous wastes are substances that can harm the environment, and affect the health of people and animals. Hazardous wastes are harmful because they are:

Explosive, flammable, reactive, toxic, corrosive or infectious

Hazardous wastes are produced by factories, users of toxic products, (such as people who use cleaning products and chemicals) and even households. Potentially hazardous wastes are about 1% of household rubbish bags and transfer station waste, but even though this is only a tiny amount, it can still cause problems.

Hazardous Wastes in the Home

Many of the products and substances we use in our homes can be hazardous if we do not use and dispose of them properly. Products such as bleach, moth balls, garden sprays, oven cleaners, paints, insect sprays and household cleaners can be dangerous.

Together these products can add up to be a considerable source of pollution. The environment can be damaged when they make their way into the air, water and soil. People's health can also be affected.

Look in your cupboards, sheds, garages, laundry and workshop for products that may be hazardous.

What to do about Hazardous Wastes?

Reduce the amount of Hazardous Wastes by:

  • Buy only as much as you need
  • Use all of the product or see if someone else can use up the leftovers
  • Buy products that are made from natural or non-toxic materials

Safe Use and Storage

Most substances are only dangerous when not used properly.

  • Always follow instructions and use carefully. Never use more than the manufacturer's instructions recommend
  • Store in original containers so that you can check instructions and contents
  • Keep the lid tightly closed
  • Store in a cool, well ventilated place, out of the reach of children and pets
  • Don't store bleach close to ammonia or acids as these could react and create a poisonous gas
  • Don't use old containers to store other products.

More Information

But if you have to have hazardous materials at home, make sure they are always stored safely and securely:

  • Keep hazardous materials dry and away from heat or flames
  • Always keep things in their original container so that you know what it is
  • If the container is leaking and you have to use another, label it correctly
  • Keep lids tightly closed
  • Always keep hazardous materials out of the reach of children - for example in a locked cupboard

Transporting household hazardous waste safely

All containers should be in good condition - this means they should not have holes or be brittle, and the lid must be fitted tightly. They must be transported upright and secured so that they cannot fall over or leak liquid or gas. If you do have a leaking container, put it into a bucket with a lid, and please remember to do this outside so that any fumes can disperse easily. Heavy-duty plastic bags may be acceptable for solid wastes. Please label the container clearly to help the person receiving the waste.You can help us - and yourself - by putting your household hazardous waste upright into cardboard boxes. This way, you protect your car from leaks, and when you arrive at the HazMobile all we need to do is lift out the box and you can be on your way!

Disposal Options

Don't tip down stormwater drains as these empty directly to local streams causing pollution and killing wildlife. It is illegal to put hazardous wastes into stormwater drains. Never tip oil onto the ground or use on unsealed driveways. It will contaminate and pollute the ground. Don't burn as some substances give off toxic fumes.

  • Only biodegradable detergents should be allowed to soak into the ground
  • Carefully seal empty containers and dispose of them in your normal rubbish
  • For any unwanted products - mix an absorbent material (e.g. kitty litter, sand or sawdust) into the original container. Tightly seal and place into a plastic bag for disposal with other rubbish


  • Allow used brush cleaners to evaporate, or use as a weed killer
  • Wash out paint brushes in a sink or gully trap
  • Allow unwanted latex and water based paint to dry then dispose with normal household rubbish


  • Take to your local chemist for proper disposal or flush down toilet. If you have a septic tank system don't flush antibiotics as these will destroy the bacteria that break down the sewage
  • Syringes - Needle exchange - for needle exchange please contact the needle exchange program.

Needle Exchange Program

+64 6 843 8725

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