What is a hazardous waste?

Hazardous waste is waste that has properties that make it hazardous or potentially harmful to human health and/or the environment.

Where does hazardous waste come from?

Hazardous waste comes from many sources, including households. It can also come in many forms including liquids, gases and solids. Hazardous waste can be grouped into three broad types:

1.    Low Toxicity Hazardous Waste: includes items commonly used and found around the household that, if disposed of incorrectly, will have an effect on human health and the environment. 

2.    High Toxicity Hazardous Waste: is waste with properties that if disposed of incorrectly would have a significant effect on human health and the environment. This waste generally needs to be collected and stored under the supervision of specialist staff to ensure that the hazards they present are properly managed.  

Examples of some of these items are listed below:

Low Toxicity High Toxicity
Household and car batteries Poisons
Gas bottles Pool chemicals
Engine and other oils Hobby chemicals
Paint and paint tins Household cleaners and solvents
Smoke detectors Pesticides and herbicides
Fluoro globes and tubes Acid and Alkaline
Fire extinguishers Unknown chemicals

3.    Asbestos waste: is material that does contain, potentially contains or is contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos waste, if disposed of incorrectly, would have detrimental effects on human health and the environment. Asbestos is classified into two categories, bonded asbestos material (non- friable asbestos) and friable asbestos material. 

Friable asbestos material is material containing asbestos in a powder form or that can be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry. Examples include pipe lagging, boiler insulation, fire retardant material and sprayed insulation. 

Bonded asbestos is any material (other than friable asbestos material) that contains asbestos. Most asbestos containing products are bonded, meaning that the asbestos material is contained within a product.  It is through the actions of weathering, normal wear and tear or mechanical action of sawing, drilling, sanding that result in bonded asbestos material becoming friable.

This information has been produced as part of the Council’s Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with SafeWork NSW. The Council entered into the Enforceable Undertaking after SafeWork NSW alleged that the Council contravened clauses 425(1), 429(2), 479(1), and 445(1) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011. The full undertaking and general information about enforceable undertakings is available at www.safework.nsw.gov.au.