Hazardous waste disposal
Some waste produced from the home is classed as hazardous waste and therefore more care and attention is required to recycle or dispose of these materials to avoid harm to people or the environment.
Items classed as hazardous waste include:
- Asbestos (see important notes below)
- Car batteries
- Car tyres
- DIY and garden chemicals
- Electrical items such as fridges, freezers, computer monitors.
- Engine oil
- Fire extinguishers (domestic only, charges may apply as per gas bottle rates)
- Gas containers (charges apply)
- Household batteries
- Lead based paint
- Low energy light bulbs and fluorescent tubes (see notes below)
- Plastic oil tank
This is not a comprehensive list. Hazardous wastes require special treatment so please ask site staff if you are unsure whether the items you are disposing of should be classed as hazardous waste.
- Household chemicals including gardening, DIY and engine fluids
- Low energy light bulbs and fluorescent tubes
- Car batteries, tyres (charges apply) and engine oil
- Household batteries, toner cartridges and mobile telephones
- Electrical items
- Gas containers (charges apply). Empty gas cylinders or oxygen bottles should be returned to the original supplier or manufacturer. (The manufacturer is usually identified on the side of the bottle).
The following are not accepted or require special handling (see further guidance below):
Ammunition and explosives
Do not take ammunition or explosives to recycling centres. Take all care when dealing with such items. If you have any ammunition or explosives for disposal, phone the police on 101 – or 999 if you have any concerns – for advice. If you find what could be unexploded ordnance, call 999 immediately.
Asbestos ~ Arrangements for asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACM)disposal changed from 4 April 2016. For asbestos disposal click here.
Do not put fireworks, even when fully spent, on the bonfire or bury. Fully spent fireworks (but not if misfired or partly spent) can be put out with refuse or in disposal skips at recycling centres. Misfired or partly spent fireworks should be soaked in a container of water and the manufacturer or supplier should be contacted for guidance on disposal. This advice is from Giving your own firework display: How to run and fire it safely – available from HSE Books.
All of Somerset’s recycling centres have facilities for the safe recycling of low energy light bulbs and fluorescent tubes.
If you have a broken low energy bulb or tube, handle with care as they contain mercury. Although accidental breakage is unlikely to cause any health problems, it’s good practice to minimise unnecessary exposure to mercury as well as the risk of cuts from glass fragments. A vacuum cleaner should not be used to clear up a broken bulb or tube. Health Protection Agency advice is to:
- Ventilate the room (15 minutes is suggested).
- Place fragments in a plastic bag (you may wish to wear rubber gloves). The bag doesn’t need to be air tight but should be reasonably sturdy.
- Wipe the area with a damp cloth, place that in the bag.
- Sticky tape (e.g. duct tape or similar) can be used to pick up small residual pieces or powder from soft furnishings, which should then be placed in bag.
- Double bag by sealing bag and placing it in another similar bag and sealing that one as well.
When double bagged and sealed, the broken bulb can be taken to be put in the low energy light bulb bins at recycling centres. Please take care that glass fragments do not cut the sealed bags or fingers.
Please return unused medicines to a pharmacist. If you need a clinical collection for disposal of medical waste, contact your district council for details of the free clinical waste collection service.
Recycling sites do not accept mercury. Specialist hazardous waste processors should be contacted.
Plasterboard – Arrangements for plaster and plasterboard disposal changed from 4 April 2016. For advice on plasterboard click here.
Plastic Oil Tanks
You can take old plastic oil tanks to a recycling site for disposal free of charge. Before you arrive at a recycling site please ensure the tank is completely dry inside. Cut the plastic oil tank in half. This will help to drain the tank, and will make transportation and handling of the tank easier. Please contact your local recycling centre direct before arriving at the site to ensure they have capacity to accept your old tank.
These may contain asbestos and so should not be broken up, but handled and disposal arranged in the same way as for cement bonded and sheet asbestos. See asbestos disposal page.